The commercial heavy oil development in China was initial in 1982 when the first cyclic steam stimulation (also known as steam huff and puff) pilot well test was successful in Liaohe Oil Field, northeast of China. In 1993, the annual heavy oil production had reached 70 million barrels and kept the level for more than 10 years.

The major development manner of heavy oil reservoir is steam injection, including cyclic steam (CSS) and steam flooding. CSS annual production is beyond 5.5 million barrels, more than 80% of heavy oil production. Steam flooding, successful in developing shallow heavy oil reservoir such as Kalamy oil reservoir, northwest of China, accounts for 8% heavy oil production with the highest annual production nearly 7 million barrels. For more than 20 years development, great progress has been made in several technologies as followed. (1) Integrated steam huff and puff technology with recovery factor higher than 20% of OOIP (2) Steam flooding technology, including high-temperature profile conformance technology, survey technology and steam measurement technology. The recovery factor of shallow heavy oil reservoir is beyond 40% of OOIP. (3) Super-heavy oil development technology, including integrated heat technology, high-efficiency steam injection technology, playing an important role in maintaining heavy oil production level with the highest annual oil production beyond 16 million barrels.

Although lots of progresses have been made, several problems as followed exist in heavy oil reservoir development. (1) CSS enters into later stage, with low pressure, low oil production and so, poor recovery results. (2) No mature development manner following CSS has come into being. (3) Steam flooding in deep heavy oil reservoirs is still in pilot test. It will take a long time to make it commercial application. (4) Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), is also in pilot test being carried out in Liaohe oil field.

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