Stochastic optimization, based on a simulated annealing method, was done to determine the optimum hot water-flooding strategy for recovery of oil from thin (<6 m) heavy oil reservoirs. The results reveal that high injection pressures are critical to a successful hot water flooding strategy. For water temperature during injection, the results show from a thermal efficienty point of view that that it is most efficient to adopt a temperature profile where the injection temperature starts high and ends at low water temperature. Multiple cycles of this profile might be beneficial depending on the reservoir conditions. The lower temperature injection at later stages of the recovery process partially recovers the heat stored in the reservoir matrix and therefore increases the overall heat utilization efficiency. A sensitivity analysis shows that the permeability distribution affects the performance of the hot water flooding process most significantly. The existence of a higher permeability zone in the lower part of the reservoir leads to earlier oil production and water breakthrough. The absolute permeability value has the largest effect on process performance. High permeability was found to lead to more oil and water production in the early stage of operation and achieved the best economic performance. The low permeability case was found to show a slow oil production. Although it has the lowest cumulative injected energy to oil produced ratio, poor oil production made the operation process uneconomic.

Keywords: thin heavy oil reservoirs, hot water-flooding, energy to oil ratio, stochastic optimization, simulated annealing

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