Obituary: Neil Edmunds, SPE

Calgary, AB—It is with deep regret we acknowledge the recent passing of Neil Edmunds, Vice President Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) for Laricina Energy Limited in Calgary, Adjunct Associate Professor of Petroleum Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, and dedicated SPE member.

Edmunds, 56, put more than 30 years of experience in thermal recovery of bitumen and the related development of reservoir-simulation software to use volunteering for SPE in various capacities, but most specifically as an associate editor of the Journal of Canadian Technology, an SPE Distinguished Lecturer, and as a committee member of the 2013 and 2014 SPE Heavy Oil Conference-Canada.

Before founding Laricina in 2005, Edmunds made significant contributions to the Canadian oil and gas industry. He first joined Gulf Oil after he graduated, working at the Pittsburgh Research Centre. That’s where he developed a process for in-situ heavy-oil extraction, which Gulf in turn patented. His focus on research and software development for heavy-oil extraction led him to form Clearwater Engineering, where he developed software and set up Surmont Resources to exploit the oil sands in the Surmont region.

In 1986 Edmunds joined Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA), where he developed advanced technologies for industry to exploit heavy-oil reservoirs—most specifically their Underground Test Facility. Following AOSTRA, he joined CS Resources to develop their East Senlac Thermal Project and to consult for EnCana Corporation, where he provided direction for the Foster Creek steam-assisted-gravity-drainage and vapour-assisted petroleum extraction pilots, researched new recovery technologies, and gave expert testimony before regulatory hearings.

At Laricina Edmunds held the positions of VP, Enhanced Oil Recovery and Advisory Director until his death. His focus there was on the commercial exploitation of the Albertan Grosmont carbonates.

Throughout his career, he published more than 25 papers and held a number of patents. Edmunds took on his role as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary in the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in 2008.

Edmunds held a BSc degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Alberta, where he was the recipient of the Gold Medal for academic excellence. He was also an active member of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta.

Edmunds is survived by his parents, Roger and Fay, brother David, and sisters, Pat and Beth, along with their families. Donations in lieu of flowers are asked to be forwarded to The Mustard Seed.


  I am very sad to hear of Neil's passing. I was very happy to have recruited him as one of our Associate Editors of the Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology. He was always very thorough and insightful. I sent him the most difficult and theoretical papers to evaluate. I knew I could always depend on his judgment. We are grateful for his contributions to the Petroleum Industry.  This is a big loss for us.
  He is finally home, may he rest in peace.

Gökhan Coskuner
Executive Editor, Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology

  I considered Neil’s insights regarding thermal EOR to be remarkable, and I looked forward to learning from every paper he gave and from every article he wrote. Neil was also very approachable on a personal level, as he would listen politely, then gave you his candid opinion. His passing is a great loss to our industry, and I am sure a far greater loss to his family.    

Karl Miller
Reservoir Engineering Specialist, Husky Energy

  Neil was a friend and colleague who was a great teacher and innovator. I will miss his counsel.
Glen Schmidt
Laricina Energy Ltd.

  Aside from being my supervisor at CS Resources, and later a friend, Neil was an extraordinary individual and his technical contributions to the oil industry in Canada are profound. Many of these are enshrined in the literature he produced. He was one of the sharpest minds I have ever come across. In him I have lost a friend and the industry has lost a treasure.

Subodh Gupta, Ph. D., P. Eng.
Chief, Technology Development, Oil Sands, Cenovus Energy Inc.

  Neil’s legacy as key technical talent that brought the SAGD theory to life was continuing with his work in the carbonate. I’ve never worked with anyone as technically brilliant or as passionately driven to achieve excellence.  His desire to teach and share is something I will miss very much.

Derek Keller
VP Production, Laricina Energy Ltd.

  Neil was most comfortable with a computer or calculator.  Neil has been quoted to say; “I like to say we’ve replaced reservoir engineers with computers, but what we’ve really done is up the level at which engineers can operate”.  But Neil was also comfortable in front of an audience, a class room, a board of directors, or a camera.  
  Neil, you had a huge impact on my life and the lives of many in Laricina and industry at large…I will never forget you.
  Harriet Tubman, an American Activist said; “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”
  Neil, your dreams have changed my world…if reincarnation exists, I hope that your wandering spirit comes back so that the rest of your dreams can be made to come true.

Dave Theriault
co-founder of Laricina Energy Ltd. and colleague of 33 years

  Neil touched heart and mind, often by challenging both. I worked with him for only 1 year at Laricina. We connected fast. We agreed on many basic issues, for example, not to compromise on the expectations of high standards for technical work. His presence alone and the anticipation of his review motivated me to constantly give my best, hoping I would earn some of his respect. Since his passing, that has not changed. He will continue to drive my technical excellence and I will continue to ask myself: What would Neil think about this? This is how I can go on without him.

Daniel Yang
Director Reservoir Engineering, Laricina Energy Ltd.