The most important parameters in the calculation of the rate and extent of gas dissolution during solvent-based heavy oil recovery processes are diffusion coefficient and solubility. However, there is a lack of sufficient experimental data on these parameters. Further, significant differences associated with reported values of diffusivities because of various nonphysical approximations made in development of the models used for calculation of this coefficient from the pressure-decay tests.
This paper presents an inverse solution technique for determining solubility, diffusion coefficient and interface mass transfer coefficient of gases in liquids (bitumens) using pressure-decay data. The approach, which is based on modeling the rate of pressure decline in response to gas diffusion, couples gas mass balance equation with the diffusion equation. Analytical solution for the forward problem is obtained by assigning physically meaningful initial and boundary conditions. Then, the forward solution is utilized to develop an interpretation technique for simultaneous determination of the equilibrium solubility, diffusivity and interface mass transfer coefficient of gas into oil. To evaluate the validity of the proposed technique, literature pressure-decay data of CH4 and CO2 dissolution in Athabasca bitumen at two different temperatures (50 and 90 °C) and initial pressure of 8 MPa were used. The simultaneous estimation of the three mass transfer parameters is the main advantage of the new methodology over the existing ones. Additionally, the calculation method doesn't depend on empirically-defined unknowns such as Henry's constant, density of solvent-bitumen mixture and etc. Eventually, the effect of neglecting gas-bitumen interface resistance on the predicted values of gas solubility and diffusivity was investigated.