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Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is the technique or process where the physicochemical (physical and chemical) properties of the rock and/or the fluids are changed to enhance the recovery of hydrocarbon. The properties of the reservoir-fluid system which are affected by EOR process are chemical, biochemical, density, miscibility, interfacial tension (IFT)/surface tension (ST), viscosity and thermal. EOR often is called tertiary recovery if it is performed after secondary recovery such as gas injection or waterflooding. Conformance is the application of processes to reservoirs and boreholes to reduce water production, enhance recovery efficiency, or satisfy a broad range of reservoir management and environmental objectives. Although the use of conformance processes may not result in increased production, such processes can often improve an operator's profitability as a result of the following benefits: Ideally, conformance control should be performed before a condition can result in serious damage.
Steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is an outstanding example of a steam injection process devised for a specific type of heavy oil reservoir utilizing horizontal wells. It is widely used in Alberta, Canada for recovery of heavy oil and tar sand resources. Several variations of the basic process have been developed, and are being tested. The original SAGD process, as developed by Butler, McNab, and Lo in 1979, utilizes two parallel horizontal wells in a vertical plane: the injector being the upper well and the producer the lower well (Figure 1, taken from Butler). If the oil/bitumen mobility is initially very low, steam is circulated in both wells for conduction heating of the oil around the wells.
Horizontal wells are being employed in innovative ways in steam injection operations to permit commercial exploitation of reservoirs that are considered unfavorable for steam, such as very viscous oils and bitumen and heavy oil formations with bottomwater. This page discusses some of the ways in which horizontal wells have been used to enhance steamflooding. Numerous papers have explored steam injection using horizontal- vertical-well combinations by use of scaled physical models or numerical simulators. For example, Chang, Farouq Ali, and George used scaled models to study five-spot steamfloods, finding that for their experimental conditions, a horizontal steam injector and a horizontal producer yielded the highest recovery. Figure 1 shows a comparison of oil recoveries for various combinations of horizontal and vertical wells and for four different cases: homogeneous formation, 10% bottomwater (% of oil zone thickness), 50% bottomwater, and homogeneous formation with 10% pore volume solvent injection before steam.
The most common method used to enhance oil production over primary rates is water injection, commonly referred to as secondary oil recovery. Common practice in the industry is to refer to all other methods as tertiary enhanced oil recovery. According to Prats, thermal enhanced oil recovery (TEOR) is a family of tertiary processes defined as "any process in which heat is introduced intentionally into a subsurface accumulation of organic compounds for the purpose of recovering fuels through wells." This article provides an introduction to the mechanisms by which steam can enhance oil recovery. The most common vehicle used to inject heat is saturated steam.
Cenovus Energy announced that it reached 1 billion bbl of cumulative production from its oil sands facilities in northern Alberta, becoming the first company to reach this milestone using SAGD technology. Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is a prime example of how structured research and development (R&D) has led to the commercial implementation of technology, helping unlock hydrocarbon resources to fulfill society’s energy demands.
A horizontal-steam-injection pilot project has been under way for the last 4 years in the Kern River heavy-oil field in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California. This paper presents an investigation into the effect of catalytic nanoparticles on the efficiency of recovery from continuous steam injection. The operator has initiated a cyclic-steam-stimulation project in the Opal A diatomite of the Sisquoc formation on the Careaga lease in the Orcutt oil field in Santa Barbara County, California.
This article highlights interesting applications of machine learning in the oil and gas industry in drilling, formation evaluation, and reservoir engineering. Each project uses a data-driven model to solve a previously complex problem using machine learning to augment an existing solution. Graham Hack shares his experience working for a large and a small E&P company and discusses how the role of young professionals can differ in these companies. This article presents three important R&D realms that demonstrate good collaborative efforts between independents and academic research institutions. Three women working in R&D offer perspectives on their work, why they joined that branch of the industry, what projects they work on, and what keeps them challenged.
In an increasingly competitive world where environmental and social concerns are paramount, resource companies need to focus on the efficient and ethical extraction. In this session, panelists will discuss emerging technologies, emissions reduction, social responsibility and culture and their impact on Canadian Heavy Oil Today and in the World of Tomorrow. As usual, we keep the best for last. This year, we have updates from Imperial Oil on SA-SAGD in Cold Lake, JACOS on Startup Program at Hangingstone Expansion, and PetroChina on NCG Injection for Pressurizing Top Gas at MacKay River.