Harvey Yarranton

Harvey Yarranton

Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Calgary

Chair title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Heavy Oil Properties and Processing

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2010


The overall aim of the Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Heavy Oil Properties and Processing is to pursue fundamental research in support of the development and operation of solvent-based processes for the recovery of in situ heavy oil and mineable oil sands. There are 1.7 trillion barrels of heavy oil and bitumen in Canada, only 10 percent of which are currently recoverable, often using energy intensive processes. Solvent-based processes have the potential to increase the recovery of in situ heavy oil and oil sands bitumen while reducing water usage and decreasing energy consumption.

Two critical tools used to design, develop and optimize heavy oil processes are reservoir and process simulators. These tools can be dangerously misleading without an accurate model of the fluid behavior, and it is just this model that is lacking for heavy oils and solvents. The current objectives of the IRC are to address this lack by developing:

  1. new methods to characterize heavy oils;
  2. a novel equation-of-state-based model framework built on the foundation of the new characterization methods; and
  3. new physical property correlations that are consistent with the above framework.

The characterization methods, models and correlations will be grounded in data collected in the chair program and together provide a framework that is essential for realistic simulations of reservoir and surface processes. The chair program also provides a collaborative academic and industrial environment for training 10 graduate students for future work in the heavy oil field.

The chairholder, Dr. Harvey Yarranton, worked for eight years in the oil industry as a petroleum engineer and has another 16 years of experience as a researcher in petroleum phase behavior, asphaltenes and emulsions. He directed an industrially sponsored research consortium that was the foundation for the chair program. The sponsors, Schlumberger and Shell Canada, are both strongly involved in the development of heavy oil in Canada. Schlumberger is a recognized expert in the areas of fluid sampling, characterization and reservoir simulation, and is well positioned to implement any new methods and models arising from the chair program. Shell Canada is a major heavy oil and oil sands producer and has a large stake in the development of efficient processes to recovery this asset. The chair research will aid Shell Canada in process selection and implementation via improved models and simulations. With the help of the sponsors, the chair program will enable more efficient and environmentally benign heavy oil recovery.


  • Shell Canada Energy
  • Schlumberger of Canada Limited

Contact information

Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta
T2N 1N4

Tel.: 403-220-6529
Fax: 403-284-4852


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