Abstract

It has long been known that heavy oil and bitumen recovery by SAGD and CSS processes is accompanied by significant production of acid gases, as well as solution gas. Since the old laboratory studies of aquathermolysis from the 1970's and 1980's, there has been considerable development in the knowledge concerning production of methane and acid gases from Athabasca, Cold Lake, Peace River, Venezuela and Utah oil sands. It is found that both GOR and gas composition may vary with the deposits concerned. There is considerable divergence of opinion about the chemical origin of some gases, notably carbon dioxide. This affects the methods of control that may be available in operating individual reservoirs, and the matter is discussed. Also discussed will be the means of taking advantage of aquathermolysis phenomenon. It has been shown that both the GOR and gas composition of a SAGD project can be calculated from first principles. This permits estimation of the daily throughput of hydrogen sulphide and therefore allows a prediction or control of the requirements for sulphur recovery. The control of scale in SAGD plants has also been achieved by application of the current state of knowledge. Finally, there are implications for hydrogen sulphide release during loss of well control, an important regulatory aspect.

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