The recovery of unconventional oil such as heavy oil is receiving great interest as the world oil demand is increasing along with relatively high oil prices. Producing such high viscosity oil is complex and challenging, which usually require thermal techniques. Thermal recovery methods are widely used to recover the heavy oil and bitumen basically by thermally reducing oil viscosity, improving the mobility ratio and enhancing the heavy oil displacement.
In response to the recent effort of leveraging heavy oil and tar plays in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco has launched a new thermochemical research program to tackle challenges associated with lowering oil viscosity to improve well productivity and the overall reservoir depletion efficiency.
One of the promising new technologies is enabling in-situ steam generation by chemical reaction (EXO-Clean) to mobilize the low API crude oil or tar reserves. In this paper a new steam flooding methodology will be introduced and compared with existing technologies. Steam will be generated in-situ by chemical reactions, which will have better efficiency and lower cost compared to conventional steam injection methods. Simulation study, lab experiments, and field treatment showed great promises of the technology.
The developed EXO-Clean treatment relates to in-situ steam generation to maximize heat delivery efficiency of steam into the reservoir and to minimize heat losses due to under and/or over burdens and non-producing areas. The treatment consists of injecting exothermic reaction-components that react downhole and generate in-situ steam and nitrogen gas. The generated in-situ steam and gas can be applied to recover deep heavy oil, and tight oil reservoirs, which cannot be recovered with traditional steam injection methods.