The HORNET program brings together funding from the private sector and different levels of government (including the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy) to conduct research in key areas of enhanced oil recovery to improve recovery rates.


  • Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand (CHOPS) and Post-CHOPS research
    • Solvent use (including CO2)  
    • Water and chemical flood optimization
    • Improving and optimizing thermal technologies
    • Microbial EOR
  • Reservoir Characterization
    • Computer modelling of wormholes for better EOR and production simulations
    • Wormhole characterization in heavy oil reservoirs through the use of micro sensor technologies

HORNET’s research focus is to move technological innovation quickly to field application.  Work on wormhole characterization – in collaboration with Dutch microsensor developers INCAS3 – has led to the injection of microsensors into heavy oil reservoirs to help identify and characterize the size, shape and location of wormholes, so as to improve the accuracy of drilling and recovery rates.  See the PTRC’s news items for additional information on microsensor work.

Industry sponsors of HORNET play an active role in choosing the research that goes forward and also help design the research program. Results are only available to the partners.  Sponsors are also eligible to participate in field trials of new technologies.  With leveraging of government money through HORNET, companies are able to gain access to millions of dollars in research results for a relatively small yearly investment.




Projects in PTRC's STEPS Business-Led Network of Centres of Excellence Program (which ran from 2008 to 2013) were focussed on three main research priorities.

  • Proven Economic Resources (Bitumen and Heavy Oil) with research in
    • Heavy Oil (Post) Cold Production
    • Enhanced Waterflooding
    • Solvent Vapour Extraction
    • Gas Flooding (miscible / immiscible)
    • Improving Heavy Oil Predictability
    • Characterizing Saskatchewan's Oil Sands Deposits
    • Developing and Adapting Exsiting Subsurface Recovery Technologies (in-situ recovery improvements)
    • Field Demonstrations of Promising New Technologies
  • Enabling Technologies for Future Resource Assets
    • This includes oil shales and Saskatchewan’s oil sands
  • Light / Conventional Oil
    • A major research initiative is underway examining how to reduce produced water from primary oil production, and how to better clean up that water such that it can be used for other industry purposes.
    • A program is also in development to help improve light oil production from the Bakken formation in southeast Saskatchewan and North Dakota.

Research results remain confidential to program funders and participants, but the STEPS Library will soon allow non-funder access to some reports and abstracts.  You can visit the library by going here .

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