Geology of the Alberta Oil Sands Deposits

  Dr. Murray Gingras & Dr. Mike Ranger
Date:   October 23-24, 2019
           8:30AM to 4:30PM
Location:         AER Core Research Centre
3545 Research Way NW, Calgary AB
CPD Credit:   16
CSPG Member Rate
Non-Member Rate   $1800


Registration is now closed

Who Should Attend
Geoscientists, managers, and engineers who are recently assigned to oils sands exploration and/or development; Geoscientists with existing experience in oil sands who may require exposure to the latest issues and research in oil sands geology.

Course Objectives
Course objective is to provide an overview of all of the oil sands reservoirs of Alberta, including carbonate reservoirs, with an emphasis on the largest economic producers: Athabasca, Cold Lake and Peace River. This will serve as an introduction to the essential geological and geotechnical aspects of the oil sands relevant to exploitation of the resource, including mining and in-situ recovery. Many aspects of oil sands stratigraphy and sedimentology remain contentious. This course will expose the participants to all sides of these issues.
Course Overview
A short course that presents the geology of Alberta’s most important heavy oil reservoirs, including McMurray, Bluesky, Clearwater and Grand Rapids formations. Topics covered will include regional characteristics, petrophysical attributes and the diverse sedimentology and stratigraphy of these different units. Course to run over 2 days at the AER Core Facility.

1.Overview of deposits; maps & regional setting; example logs:
      a. Athabasca (6-8 cores)
      b. Cold Lake (1-2 cores)
      c. Peace River (1-2 cores)
      d. Wabiskaw Member
      e. Grand Rapids (1-2 cores)
      f. Clearwater Sands (1-2 cores)
      g. Grosmont Carbonates (1 core)
2. Logs, petrophysics & fluids:
      a.Grain/fluid habitat: sands, carbonates
      b.Gas, top water, bottom water, low saturation zones
      c.log analysis:
i. integrating core data,
ii. Rw issues, freshwater
iii. lithic sands, shaly sands (Cold Lake, Athabasca Clearwater Sd)
      d.economic criteria & cutoffs
3. Development history & technology -geology of a suitable reservoir: 
      a.mining (Athabasca)
      b.SAGD (Athabasca, Grand Rapids)
i. Gas-over-bitumen issue
      c.CSS (Cold Lake, Grosmont)
      d.CHOPS (Peace River)
      e.Polymer flood (Wabasca)
      f.Experimental projects
i. THAI fire flood
ii. n-Solv solvent at Suncor 
      g.Failures & marginal projects: 
i. Southern Pacific McMurray
ii. Jocelyn Creek cap rock breach
iii. Cold Lake Tucker
iv. Nexen Long Lake
4. Stratigraphy
      a.Sub-Cretaceous of NE Alberta & structure; salt tectonics
i. Wabiskaw / McMurray (& log picks) 
ii. McMurray lower - middle - upper & details
iii. Seq. Strat
   1. history & various models:  superchannel, deltaic, stuttering sea level
5. McMurray conundrum
6. Sedimentology and Facies Models
      a.Ichnology - Sedimentology - Palynofacies (lectures & core sessions)
      b.Shorefaces: upper McMurray, NW Athabasca, Wabiskaw at Wabasca
      c.Deltas: Bluesky Fmt., Grand Rapids, (Athabasca Clearwater sands)
      d.Estuaries: middle McMurray, Cold Lake Clearwater central bay
i. Tidal and Fluvial sediments

Mike Ranger is a petroleum consultant focusing on exploration and production geology of heavy oil and oil sands, integrating core, wireline logs, outcrop data and digital data analysis. Mike earned a BSc from Concordia University in Montreal and an MSc. from Memorial University of Nfld. He was employed for eight years as a senior geologist for Gulf Canada, before receiving a PhD from the University of Alberta in 1994. Since 1993 Mike has been an independent consultant and researcher and has advised on many of the major projects of the Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake areas as well as international projects in Colombia, China, Mongolia, Europe, U.S. and Peru. Mike is also an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta, and has published numerous papers, given numerous lectures, and served as an expert witness on the geology of the oil sands of Western Canada.  He also consulted for and appeared in two oil sands-related documentaries for the CBC (2008) and BBC (2010); and was a geological software consultant for the International Ocean Drilling Program from 1996 to 1999. Mike also leads outcrop studies and field seminars for the Athabasca oil sands.

Murray Gingras has earned a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology (1987) after which, he worked as a project manager for wellsite oil-gas-separator installations. Gingras subsequently earned a BSc in Geology (1995) and a PhD in Sedimentary Geology (1999). Since that time, Murray has been recognized as one of the international leaders in ichnology (using trace fossils and other paleoecological knowledge to interpret the rock record). With respect to working on modern deposits (to provide subsurface analogues), Gingras’ research group is the most active in North America. Murray’s work has also focused on understanding the influence of bioturbation on permeability and porosity distributions in reservoir strata: he has published several seminal papers on this topic and is regarded to be a world leader in this area as well. Since the completion of his doctorate, Gingras has published 178 refereed journal article that cumulatively have been cited 6300 times. Gingras has served on the editorial board of 3 international journals and is currently the co-editor of the international journal for ichnology, Ichnos. Gingras has been particularly active with the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geology, the Society for Sedimentary Geology and the American Association of Petroleum Geology. Gingras has been recognized for his research efforts in being awarded the CSPG Doctoral Thesis Award (1999), the CSPG Medal of Merit (2005), the Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award (2010) and the Geological Association of Canada Hutchison Medal (2016). In 2018 Gingras became the Stelck-Pemberton Chair in Petroleum Geology at the University of Alberta.

Are you waiting for approval to register for this course? Please let us know that you are waiting for approval to attend this course and we will try and protect a spot for you. You will also be helping us out in deciding if we must cancel a course or continue with registration. Email

Cancellation Policy:
Cancellation policy: No refunds available. Substitutes acceptable.
Please email

CPD Credits 1 hour of technical training is 1 APEGA CPD Credit
For More information on APEGA's CPD regulation Click Here
                 CSPG Course Cancellation
CSPG reserves the right to cancel any 
course due to low registration. 

If CSPG cancels a course, registrants will be
 able to receive a full refund or transfer their 
registration to another available course.