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NSERC-IRC in Unconventional Oil Recovery


Dr. Babadagli held an NSERC-Industrial Research Chair in Unconventional Oil (July 2011-2016) and is currently a Senior Chairholder in the second term of the IRC (November 2016-2021)








We would love to hear from you!  If you would like to inquire about joining the IRC consortium or would like additional information, please contact us at any time.

Description of the Program

Energy and natural resources engineering falls into one of NSERC’s strategic areas based on the federal government’s future development plans. Alberta holds the second largest hydrocarbon reserves in heavy-oil and bitumen, and development is a major part of the country’s agenda. In fact, 85% of these resources are below the minable depth and they require in-situ recovery techniques. The province is considered one of the top oil centers in the world and new developments in the area of unconventional recovery will be felt globally. The strong interest and support from the industry for establishing this IRC program indicates heavy-oil and bitumen recovery is a high priority for these companies. Direct and immediate transfer of new knowledge and technologies will be provided to the industry. 

This research program conducts applied and fundamental research to develop and test new technologies for in-situ recovery of heavy-oil and bitumen, and transfer these technologies to the Canadian oil industry providing them with immediate solutions for their operating needs. The main component of the IRC research program is two-fold:

  1. Improvement of existing technologies through experimental and computational modeling and visualization. Fundamental and applied research will be conducted by the IRC chair program to understand the underlying mechanisms and the physics of the heavy-oil and bitumen recovery processes – namely thermal and solvent injection techniques. This will lead to identifying the reasons for low recovery and inefficiency of these applications. This includes advanced techniques like micro (pore) to giga (field) scale experimental and numerical modeling studies. The IRC research program will effectively identify the main reasons behind the inefficiency of these processes. 

  2. Test new materials, tools and techniques to improve the efficiency of the thermal and solvent processes. The research will be focused on fluids/materials that respond electrostrictively, magnetostrictively and react to changes in temperature or pressure. Under the research program, new techniques also include non-classical modeling approaches such as random walk, particle tracking, and other types of pore or larger scale stochastic techniques.



The vision of the IRC research chair program is to be the leading research group working on the applicability of advanced technologies for the efficient depletion of unconventional oil reserves through experimental (nano-scale and visual micro-fluidics approaches to core scale) research; and computational (micro/pore-scale to field-scale) research, which would introduce efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives, and next-generation recovery techniques for application in Canada and throughout the world. 

We are thankful to the following companies and agencies for their support and partnership of the NSERC-IRC program:


We are also grateful to our previous IRC members:




















Past and/or current research conducted by our team is sponsored by the following bodies: ​

  1. NSERC Industrial Research Chair (IRC), Partner Companies: CNRL, SUNCOR, PEMEX, Petrobank, APEX Eng., Sherritt, and Husky Energy 

  2. NSERC (Discovery Grant No: G121210595 and Strategic Grant No: 04-14O)

  3. NSERC Discovery Grant, No: RES0011227

  4. NSERC (Collaborative Research Development (CRD) No: 385289-09 and 385291-09) 

  5. Canada Foundation for Innovation - CFI (New Opportunities Grant No: G121990070) 

  6. Petroleum Development Oman (in collaboration with Sultan Qaboos University, Oman) 

  7. Apache Canada Ltd.(CO2 Flooding and Sequestration in the Zama and Midale Fields) 

  8. University of Alberta (FSIDA-Grant No: 04-14O and IPF) 

  9. The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey - TUBITAK (in collaboration with Middle East Technical University, Turkey). 

  10. HUSKY Energy (Bitumen Recovery from Grosmont Carbonates) 

  11. Laricina Energy (Bitumen Recovery from Grosmont Carbonates by Hot Solvent Injection) 

  12. Stream Oil and Gas Ltd (Experimental Analysis of the Steam and CO2 EOR Potential of the Gorisht Field) 

  13. APEX Eng. (Improvement of In-Situ Bitumen Recovery by Ozone, SO2, and Biodiesel Injection) 

  14. Stream Oil and Gas Ltd. Project, Project No: RES0006246 

  15. Sunshine Oilsands Ltd., Project No: RES0009156

  16. “Alberta Innovates Graduate Student Scholarship NSERC Top-Up Award,” (John Greff, MSc student) Research Allowance, Alberta Ingenuity Nanoscholarship, Project No: GS Innov Nano ra 201100519 Gre

  17. Laricina Energy Project, No: RES0002567 

  18. “Integrated Research to Evaluate the Potential for Developing Engineered Geothermal Systems (EGS) in Alberta: Reservoir Simulation of Heat Production from an EGS in Northern Alberta Granites” with eight University of Alberta professors (Dr. Martyn Unsworth, Theme Leader), and three GFZ Potsdam researchers, No: RES0006266

  19. Suncor Energy, Project No: 4502318743


And to our previously-affiliated agencies and companies: