PTAC TIS – SRC: Using Custom Physical Models to Accelerate Technology Development and Reduce Risks

Developing and implementing new or improved recovery process has been historically a slow and laborious process. For instance, steam-assisted gravity drainage, or hybrid thermal/solvent enhanced oil recovery, took over 20 years from initial idea to commercial application.

This is, in part, because technology field trials are often capital intensive and require a lot of time. There is also a risk to damaging existing production and even future reserves, and volatile oil price make it very difficult for medium and long-term investments. It is difficult to predict the performance of a process in the field and requires a significant investment of time and money. Furthermore, laboratory and field trial results are often inconclusive.

At the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), we have worked with both technology providers and operators to help evaluate and de-risk new technology, accelerating industry adoption. We have developed a range of various physical and numerical modelling tools to help us reduce screening costs and optimize workflow.

In this presentation, we will discuss a stage-gated, fast-to-fail approach for evaluating new ideas, from proof of concept and intellectual property development, to technology and commercial feasibility, to large-scale 3-D physical modelling experiments. In order to minimize technical and financial risk, our fast-to-fail criteria prioritizes early evaluation of factors that are most likely to cause a technology to fail. If a technology is not likely to succeed, it can be discontinued at the lowest possible cost in time and resources, making way for new ideas.

Large-scale physical modelling experiments that are custom designed/modified for each process allow better prediction of field performance and can uncover hidden risks much faster and cheaper than field tests. These experiments are designed to scale and replicate the field petrophysical conditions. In the scenarios where proof of concept for a given technology/process doesn’t pass the minimum risk level, we can alter the process concept and re-validate with a higher degree of reliability.


Petro Nakutnyy


Watch the presentation here: 



To view a copy of the presentation slides, please contact Petro or Suzanne from SRC directly:

Petro Nakutnyy: [email protected]

Suzanne Johnston: [email protected]