Performance predictions of In-Situ Combustion (ISC) process is a challenge as it involves complicated chemical reactions, fluids movement, phase changes, and heat and mass transfer. This study investigates how the aquathermolysis reactions and their chemical products can affect the ISC performance through combination of combustion tube and Thermogravimetric Analysis and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (TGA/DSC) experiments.
Combustion tube experiments were conducted with two different crude oil without water (Swi=0%) and with the presence of water (Swi=34%). Experimental conditions were kept constant (3 L/min air injection rate and 100 psig pack pressure) for all four experiments conducted with two different oil samples. To determine the chemical reactions occurred during combustion tube experiments, the initial crude oil samples and their Saturates, Aromatics, Resins, and Asphaltenes (SARA) fractions were subjected to TGA/DSC experiments under air injection at two constant heating rates with and without water addition. Because during combustion tube experiments, two heating rates were observed, 5°C/min was used to represent the slow heating region (Steam Plateau and Evaporation & Visbreaking) and 20°C/min was used to mimic the rapid heating region (Cracking Region and Combustion Zone). To better understand the complicated mutual interactions of functional groups in crude oil, TGA/DSC experiments were repeated on normal-decane (an alkane), decanal (an aldehyde), decanone (a ketone), and decanol (an alcohol) which may represent the low temperature oxidation (LTO) products. Note that these chemicals have constant carbon number (C10).
The combustion tube experiments showed that Oil1 was able to burn for both conditions (with and without water), while Oil2 could only sustain combustion with water. To study the reason for this difference in burning behavior, the burning behavior of the crude oils and their individual SARA fractions with and without water addition was studied through TGA/DSC experiments. At high heating rate (20°C/min), heat generation does not vary for both crude oil. However, in low heating rates (5°C/min), Oil1 generates higher amount of energy at high temperature oxidation (HTO) zone. We have observed similarities between the decanone (a ketone) burning behaviors with aromatics fractions for Oil1 which may indicate that aromatics fraction may contain ketone functional groups as LTO products Because upon burning, ketones generate higher energy than any LTO products, Oil1 may have functional groups in its structure more like ketones which promotes its combustion more than Oil2. While presence of water does not change the burning behavior of Oil1, we observed that aromatics fraction of Oil2 in the presence of water generates components similar to decanol (an alcohols) burning behavior. Note that alcohols generate more heat than aldehydes upon burning which explains the enhancement of Oil2 burning behavior in the presence of water, however, produced less energy than ketones, hence, combustion performance of Oil2 was poorer than Oil1. Our results suggest that the chemical structure of aromatics fraction is critical for the success of ISC. Water and aromatics fraction interaction at elevated temperature favors ISC reactions.
Enhanced oil displacement in a reservoir is highly affected by wettability alterations in conjunction with the lowering of viscosities during steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) for bitumen extraction. The impartation of energy in the form of heat to the fluid by injecting steam triggers an alteration to a more water-wet state during SAGD. However, the presence of three distinct phases in the reservoir has implications for the effective modeling of the complex fluid dynamics. Dependency of the relative permeability endpoints on the temperature realized as a function of the introduction of steam is difficult to model. Optimization of any steam process requires simulation in order to adequately characterize years of flow and so a model that is capable of representing three phase flow is necessary. To obtain this a pseudo-two phase relative permeability is proposed that assumes fractional flow theory is valid and treats the experiments as a waterflood.
In this study, experimental recovery data for two SAGD experiments and one hot water flood are empirically matched by manipulating relative permeabilities. The analytical approach implemented allows for the representation of fluid flow in the reservoir by achieving a pseudo-two phase relative permeability that results in comparable performance to the experiments. Waterflooding techniques were utilized which allowed for the negation of the steam phase in the model and so two-phase flow was established.
The sensitivity of the relative permeability curves to temperature change results in the inability to formulate a generic three-phase curve and so the pseudo-two phase curve is valuable for the purpose of simulation. The methodology presented enables the formulation of a simplified relative permeability that is unique to each process used and in that specific location. The model that was established was validated and proven credible by the good match with the experimentally obtained values.