Heavy oil and bitumen are found in many places worldwide, with the largest deposits in the world being in Canada (Alberta), Venezuela and the former Soviet Union.
Among huge conventional and unconventional oil resources so-called Bazhenov series represent one of the highest hydrocarbons potential in Russia. Its resources of light oil considerably exceed conventional oil resources, and extra heavy oil resources are estimated to be hundreds of billion tons (some estimates go beyond 2 trillion tons). Despite huge geological HC resources allocated in BS technology for their effective development is still a challenge.
Thermogas is one of the promising EOR technologies that are under development in Russia. First theoretical as well as experimental and pilot results indicate that this technology could be successfully deployed for the development of hydrocarbons located in Bazhenov series.
It is anticipated that the use of Thermogas technology for extraction of hydrocarbons from BS, based on successful application of similar technology for enhanced recovery of light oils from fractured dolomite formations in USA, can result in recovery of at least 35–40% of their resources. This could open up huge yet poorly estimated world unconventional oil resources that enable sustainable production of hydrocarbons at a global scale for many decades.
Technology of "cold" mechanical oil processing is another "attraction point" of intensive research in Russia. This new approach is based on extremely localized "injection" of required amount of energy in order to break intermolecular and intramolecular chemical bonds in hydrocarbon compounds and molecular conglomerates. Technological effect is gained by means of initiation of the cavitation processes in the treated medium.
Heavy organic molecules (asphaltenes, long paraffin and other complexes) and their conglomerates present in crude oil and subjected to this technology undergo breakdown of chemical bonds and, as a result, drastic changes in crude oil properties like viscosity and, to a lesser extent, density.
Although technology is at its initial, i.e. "nucleus" development phase, its applications are perceptible in many potential areas of application, from up- to mid- and to downstream petroleum sectors.
Recent developments in Thermogas EOR as well as in cold mechanical oil processing are described in this paper.