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Welcome to the In-Situ Combustion (ISC) website

Alex Turta's website

The intent of this website is to share my expertise on In-Situ Combustion (ISC), as a method for exploitation/recovery of the oil and gas, and recovery of the energy stored in the underground coal.  The most widespread utilization has been as an Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) method applied in heavy oil reservoirs.
Synonyms for in situ combustion are:
  • Underground combustion
  • Fireflooding

“Underground combustion” in other languages:

  • Spanish: Combustion subterranea (combustion en sitio o combustion en el yacimiento)  
  • French: Combustion souterraine (combustion in situ or deplacement par combustion)   
  • Russian: Vnutriplastovoie gorenie             
  • German: Unterirdische Verbrennung (In Situ Verbrennungsprozese)
  • Dutch:  Ondergrondse verbranding
  • Portuguese: Combustao in-situ            
  • Chinese: 火烧油层                         
  • Hindi: Bhumigat Jwalan             
  • Arabic:
  • Romanian: Combustie subterana
  • Norwegian: Undergrunn forbrenning (Underjordisk forbrenning)   

ISC is a very complex Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) process. My OBJECTIVE is to dearly provide the ISC related knowledge, both basics and last minute advancements, in order to facilitate a quick update for  youngsters and/or engineers and scientists, just entering this area of EOR.


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Alex Turta has a reservoir engineering background.  Alex is the CEO and President of his own company, A T EOR Consulting Inc., specialized in EOR and Heavy Oil Recovery. He is also working as a consultant for his former employer, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF), former Alberta Research Council (ARC). He has a Ph.D. in oil recovery by in situ combustion (ISC), with a subsequent in-depth specialization in ISC applications.  

For more than 12 years, Alex was involved in the implementation and management of Suplacu de Barcau commercial project, the world’s biggest ISC project. 

He has served as an ISC consultant in North and South America, Europe and Asia.  He has also been engaged in assignments from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP). As an UNDP expert he has guided the development of Balol and Santhal ISC projects in India, from pilot to commercial stage operation.

All in all, he has been involved in 8 commercial ISC operations and 16 ISC pilots, worldwide.

Alex is the recipient of 2012 Society of Petroleum Engineers Canada Regional Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award for his contributions in theory and practice of ISC application; he was instrumental in developing the theory and practice of commercial exploitation of heavy oil reservoirs by ISC using the peripheral line drive operation starting from the uppermost part of the structure; this theory has been confirmed by the successful operation of the commercial ISC projects at Suplacu de Barcau (Romania), and Balol and Santhal (India).    

Alex is the author of the ISC chapter in the recently USA published book, namely "Enhanced Oil Recovery. Field Case Studies", Elsevier, 2013, Editor James J. Sheng.

Since 1992, Alex has been part of the “split-team”, which has continuously worked on both sides of the Atlantic, to develop  novel ISC processes for heavy oil recovery, namely Toe-To-Heel Air Injection (THAITM) and its version for in-situ upgrading, CAPRITM.  Since 1996 Alex has also been instrumental in developing the Toe-To-Heel Waterflooding process. 

For the use of horizontal wells in heavy oil recovery, he introduced and defined the concept of short-distance oil displacement as opposed to the concept of long-distance oil displacement, used in conventional light oil recovery, when using only vertical wells.



Alex Turta












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Expertise in the area of oil recovery by ISC

  1. Obtained his Ph.D with a contribution to the development of wet ISC
  1. 22 year’s experience with field, laboratory and analytical modelling of ISC, being instrumental in the design, implementation and evaluation of the biggest world’s ISC process at Suplacu de Barcau, Romania (daily oil production 10,000 bbl/day)
    1. Technical reports on ISC:  29 (for more than 10 projects both pilots and commercial projects)
    2. Publications on ISC process/projects:  15
    3. ISC international consultancy work: Ecuador, India, Russia, Kazachstan, Romania, Argentina;  World Bank ISC expert in 1986 for Videle-Balaria commercial ISC projects in Romania; UNDP ISC expert for India in the period 1991-1996
    4. Consultancy in North America: Amoco, Oracle Oil, ARC (1993)
    5. ISC related patents:  9 
  1. Instrumental in the development of the short-distance oil displacement processes: Toe-To-Heel Air Injection (THAI), and CAPRI, in a long cooperation (1992-2003) with University of Bath, England. THAI and CAPRI are new recovery processes for heavy oil recovery. Also, developed the Toe-To-Heel Waterflooding (TTHW) process.
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Identification of the pictures in the Banner (from left to right):

  1. A general schematics of ISC
  1. Combustion tube set up of Institut Francais du Petrole.  As presented in the book: Thermal Methods of Oil Recovery by J. Burger, P. Sourieau and M. Combarnous.  Edition Technip Paris, 1985
  1. Position of linear ISC front at Suplacu de Barcau after 34 years of commercial operation (Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, November 2007)
  1. Schematics of THAI process in a vertical section (courtesy of University of Bath, UK)
  1. Schematics of THAI field testing in the Whitesands Project (courtesy of Petrobank Energy and Resources)
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Major Contributors to the Development of the ISC Process

J. Alexander, N.K. Baibakov, John Belgrave, Arkadii Bokserman, C. Chu, Jack Burger, D.N. Dietz, A.R. Garushev, Ian Gates, Byron Gottfried, Malcolm Greaves, Wenlong Guan, Pan Jingjun, Tang Junshi, R.L. Koch, C.S. Kuhn, Victor Machedon, W.L. Martin, Raj Mehta, J.S. McNiel, Gordon Moore, John Moss, T.W. Nelson, Valentin Petcovici, Henry Ramey, Narayan Rao, A.B. Sheinman, S.K. Sinha, Sidharta Sur, Philip White, Alex Turta and Dimitrios Yanimaras

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