Abstract

Solvent-based processes have demonstrated a significant potential to enhance heavy oil recovery. However, their applicability needs to be investigated for different solvents and operating conditions. In this study, a comprehensive experimental and reservoir simulation analysis was conducted on the feasibility of solvent-based, huff-n-puff method to enhance heavy oil recovery. Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), propane (C3H8), and butane (C4H10) were tested under different operating conditions. A physical model with a1800-md permeability and 24% porosity Berea core mounted in a high-pressure core holder was designed. For all tests, the core was saturated with a Saskatchewan heavy oil with viscosity of 1423 mPas at 22 °C. Fourteen huff-n-puff experiments were conducted. The effect of operating pressure, soaking time, and solvent composition were investigated. According to the results, for all types of solvent the produced oil at elevated pressure was lighter (in terms of density and viscosity) and the recovery factor was higher. The highest recovery of 71% was obtained by injecting pure CO2 at near-supercritical conditions (7239 kPa at 28 °C), while pure CH4 at the highest operating pressure of 6895 kPa was 50%. Also, adding 19% hydrocarbon solvent to pure CO2 increased the recovery factor by 10% at aoperating pressure (e.g., 2317kPa). The governing mechanisms that contributed to the production were recognized to be solution gas drive, viscosity reduction, extraction of lighter components, formation of foamy oil, and to a lesser degree, the diffusion process. The oil viscosity was reduced to 62 mPas by injecting CO2 at 7239 kPa. The highest incremental recovery for CO2-based solvents and CH4 occurred at the 2nd and 3rd cycle, respectively. Longer soaking time improved the incremental recovery of the first cycles, though the final recovery did not noticeably change. The result of history matching with the simulated model was quite reasonable with maximum 10% discrepancy between recovery factors of these two approaches.

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