Employing CO2 as the non-condensable gas in the Vapex process is an attractive option that could provide environmental benefits of CO2 sequestration along with improved Vapex performance. Mixtures of CO2 and a hydrocarbon such as propane allow the solvent to be tailored to different reservoir conditions. To test potential solvent mixtures, the phase behavior and physical properties and physical model experiments are required. We have previously reported on the phase behavior, viscosity and density of the CO2-propane-Athabasca Bitumen systems (Badamchizadeh et al., 2008a,b). These results confirmed the ability of carbon dioxide and propane mixtures to sufficiently reduce Athabasca bitumen viscosity and were used to design the solvent compositions utilized in the physical model tests reported here.

The experimental approach used in these tests was to use a fixed composition of the CO2 and propane mixture as the Vapex solvent. The objective of this work was to evaluate the performance of this solvent in recovering the Athabasca bitumen. The experiments were carried out at room temperature in a physical model. In-line measurements of the density and viscosity of the produced oil were used to gain further insight into the mechanisms involved in the process.

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