Division Profile
The Heavy Oil / Oil Sands Division was originally established in November 2007. The purpose of the division was to provide a forum for CSPG members and guests who are either employed and/or interested in learning more about the disciplines of heavy oil and oil sands. This division is focused on providing attendees the opportunity to learn more about the geology, technology, various projects and development in the heavy oil / oil sands industry. In addition, this forum will provide the attendee the chance to network with their peers and meet new contacts in the industry.

Division Information

The division will host a breakfast session that will take place in the Halliburton Training Room which is located at Room 1830, 645 - 7th Avenue SW.  The forum will start at 8:00am and starts with a 10 minute introduction, followed by a 40 minute talk, and will conclude with 10 minutes to network. We are looking for sponsors for our continental breakfast. The sponsor will get promoted on our group email as well as at the event. During the introduction each sponsor will be able to talk for up to 5 minutes about their company, services and products. The sponsoring company will also be able to provide a business card draw.

The monthly forum will be the first Wednesday of each month. We expect to host additional events throughout the year to allow our attendees the opportunity to do more networking. Some of these events include a Christmas party and Stampede party. The events will be complimentary and will be sponsored by various service companies engaged in the heavy oil / oil sands industry.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, giving a presentation, sponsoring an events, or joining our mailing list, please contact of one volunteers or chairperson.

Chair: Randy Smith, geotrakker@shaw.ca, (c) 403.968.9222

Upcoming Division Talk


Speaker: Duncan MacKay

April 5, 2017 | 8:00-9:00am 
Halliburton Training Room (1830),  645-7th ave SW Calgary T29 0Y9


Studies of tide-dominated deposits have typically employed relatively large and complex facies schemes   in order to adequately interpret depositional processes and environments (e.g., early studies of the Cretaceous heavy oil deposits in Alberta were commonly described with more than 15 facies). Recently, heavy-oil producers have gravitated towards simpler classification schemes that are based on the abundance of hydrocarbon-bearing reservoir (sandstone) relative to non-hydrocarbon-bearing reservoir (mudstone): these schemes are well-suited to economic evaluations (i.e., calculations of oil in-place) and for the generation of 3D earth models for reservoir simulation. Recent academic advances in our understanding of tidal deposits suggest, however, that in order to maximize our understanding of steam/production pathways and reservoir heterogeneity, the value of these classification schemes should be re-examined, particularly with respect to the significance of mudstone-layer characteristics for in-situ recovery projects.  

The tidally dominated Bluesky Formation (“Peace River oil sands”, west-central Alberta) is a pervasively heterolithic deposit that provides an ideal core-based case study for the critical evaluation of facies classification schemes. For all tidally influenced deposits it is important recognize that there are three particular challenges for defining a relatively simple and standard facies scheme that also provides robust interpretations of depositional processes and depositional environments:   (1) tidal successions consist of complexly interbedded sandstone and mudstone layers at a wide range of scales, which makes the delineation of simple facies very difficult; (2) spatial and temporal variations in the interplay of tidal, wave and fluvial energy are typically not unique to particular sub-environments; and (3) the morphology of tide-dominated environments is complicated, which makes it difficult to link facies and facies successions with the morphological elements and locations within the system.

Using well logs and core, the Bluesky Formation is divided into two valley-bounded sequences, informally referred to in this study as the “lower Bluesky unit” and the “upper Bluesky unit”. The lower Bluesky unit is composed of tide-dominated deltaic deposits. The upper Bluesky unit is composed of tide-dominated estuarine deposits. The lower Bluesky unit has abundant fluid-mud layers  (comprising 5-40% of most facies), many of which are interpreted to have been deposited under conditions of moderate to high suspended-sediment concentration (1-1000 g L-1) and appreciable current speeds (> 0.2 ms-1). The upper Bluesky unit, by contrast, has more sparsely distributed mudstone layers (comprising 0-15% of most facies) deposited primarily during slackwater and under conditions of relatively low suspended-sediment concentrations (< 1 g L-1). Both units are composed predominantly of subtidal and lower intertidal channel-bar and tidal-flat deposits. However, the most seaward deposits of the deltaic lower Bluesky unit contain sandstone-dominated heterolithic delta-front and mouth-bar deposits, whereas the most seaward environments of the estuarine upper Bluesky unit contain monolithic tidal sand-ridge deposits. The continuity and architecture of the mudstone layers depend on: (1) bathymetric position on these various geomorphic elements; (2) proximal-distal position within the fluvial-to-marine transition; and (3) whether or not the system is deltaic (regressive) or estuarine (transgressive). 

A new and robust method for interpreting tidal facies is presented in this study. The approach uses a broadly applicable process-driven facies classification scheme that ensures a manageable number of facies (nine). Recent improvements in the understanding of tidal systems and their facies models are incorporated into the method, most significantly highlighting the importance of mud, as well as the realization that the set of geomorphic elements that comprise tidal systems is relatively small in number despite their complex lithofacies.

Dr. Duncan completed his B.Sc. at the University of Waterloo and, after working several years fulltime in the oil and gas industry, returned to academia at Queen’s University. Duncan completed a Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Robert Dalrymple, studying the sedimentology of tidal depositional systems. Duncan has worked in the oil and gas industry for Shell Canada, Verano Energy (a Colombian-focused  E&P company) and currently is working at Serinus Energy pursuing exploration opportunities in Eastern Europe and North Africa.

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