Identification and mitigation of leaks of subsurface fluids such as hydrocarbons at many heavy-oil fields is a first-order concern to operating companies, their regulators and the public. A variety of leaks have been documented at heavy-oil fields in Alberta (Canada) and California (USA). Although the petroleum geology and tectonic framework of fields in these areas differ significantly, production-related uplift of overburden and dilation of pre-existing fractures due to cyclic steam injection are likely to have facilitated the leakage events. As a result, integration of overburden characterization and monitoring with management of steam pressures may provide an effective means of risk mitigation of major leakage events.
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