Discovered resources of heavy and extraheavy crude oil are estimated to be approximately 4,600 billion bbl, two-thirds of which are in Canada and Venezuela. Bitumen and tar sands are excluded from this estimate. Published data on reserves estimates (RE) from this resource by primary drive mechanisms are sparse. Meyer and Mitchell estimated worldwide ultimate recovery from heavy and extraheavy crude oils to be 476 billion bbl, which is 10% of the Briggs et al. estimate of the discovered resource initially in place. Estimated primary reserves estimates (RE) ranges from 8 to 12% oil-in-place (OIP) for the Orinoco area of Venezuela, where stock-tank gravities range from 8 to 13 American Petroleum Institute (API).
Heavy oil is defined as liquid petroleum of less than 20 API gravity or more than 200 cp viscosity at reservoir conditions. No explicit differentiation is made between heavy oil and oil sands (tar sands), although the criteria of less than 12 API gravity and greater than 10,000 cp are sometimes used to define oil sands. Unconsolidated sandstones (UCSS) are sandstones (or sands) that possess no true tensile strength arising from grain-to-grain mineral cementation.
Transmitting electrical current to the subsurface can create special considerations. Successful application of electromagnetic heating often requires a multi-disciplinary approach combining electric engineering and petroleum engineering. To assist petroleum engineers considering this approach, this article identifies some of the issues that an electrical engineer might normally anticipate and address. In most practical situations, we are concerned with fields that vary periodically in time (the sinusoidal steady state generally). In these cases the electrical phenomena are properly described by Maxwell equations in terms of complex vector field intensities of electric and magnetic fields (E and H); complex vector field electric, magnetic, and current densities (D,B,J); complex charge concentrations (ρc); and complex material parameters: conductivity, permittivity, and permeability (σ, ε, μM).
The electromagnetic heating of oil wells and reservoirs refers to thermal processes for the improved production of oil from underground reservoirs. The source of the heat, generated either in the wells or in the volume of the reservoir, is the electrical energy supplied from the surface. This energy is then transmitted to the reservoir either by cables or through metal structures that reach the reservoir. The main effect, because of the electrical heating systems used in practice in enhanced oil recovery, has been the reduction of the viscosity of heavy and extra heavy crudes and bitumens, with the corresponding increase in production. Focus is centered on systems (and the models that describe their effects) that have been used for the electromagnetic heating in the production of extra heavy petroleum and bitumen.
This topic describes the effect of temperature on rock acoustic velocity. For consolidated rocks (Classes I, II, and V as defined in Rock acoustic velocities and porosity), the elastic mineral frame properties are usually only weakly dependent on temperature. This is true for most reservoir operations with the exception of some thermal recovery procedures. In the case of poorly consolidated sands containing heavy oils, velocities show that a strong temperature dependence is observed (Figure 1). Several factors can combine to produce such large effects.
In the modeling of any system, one is always faced with the dilemma of choosing the level of complexity that correctly predicts the response of interest. In the case of modeling the electrical heating of wells and reservoirs for heavy or extra-heavy oil at low frequencies (below the microwave range) and considering only one liquid phase and no gas phases, the systems of equations shown in this article are considered sufficient. The problem is still unsolved for the case of microwave heating of reservoirs, in which a complete model, which correctly takes into account the electric losses of a system of solid grains, liquids with dissolved gases and salts (with the corresponding complex geometrical, scaling, and electrochemical properties in the presence of electrical diffusion currents and space charges), is not yet available. For the case of concentrated heating (either resistive or inductive) and distributed heating in the reservoir and surrounding regions (at frequencies below the microwave range) or distributed heating in the metal elements (at any frequency) the equations given next (in a cylindrical coordinate system) are deemed sufficient. The third term on the left, the product of temperature multiplied by the divergence of the velocity, has been neglected in many models of heating of reservoirs (it is strictly zero only for incompressible fluids.).