Heavy oil and bitumen are expected to become increasingly important sources of fuel in the coming decades. There are extensive deposits in Alberta that could be a principal source of fuel in the coming century. The Athabasca Oil Sands, the largest petroleum accumulation in the world, the Cold Lake oil deposit, and the Lloydminster reservoir are all major Canadian oil sands deposits. SAGD, which has shown considerable promise in all three of these major deposits, remains an expensive technique and requires large energy input. Energy intensity of SAGD and the environmental concerns make it imperative to find new oil extraction technologies.
Co-injecting hydrocarbon additives with steam offers the potential of lower energy and water consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emission by improving the oil rates and recoveries. In a previous paper by the same authors(Hosseininejad Mohebati, Maini et al. 2009), it was shown that the selection of a suitable hydrocarbon additive and the effectiveness of this hybrid process are strongly dependent on the operating conditions, reservoir fluid composition, the heavy oil viscosity, and the petrophysical properties of the reservoir. Among these factors, the heavy oil viscosity which is the most prominent difference between these three reservoirs could be a very important parameter in the performance of this hybrid process. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the effect of oil viscosity on solvent assisted SAGD.
Extensive numerical studies in a 3D model by means of a fully implicit thermal simulator were conducted to evaluate the efficiency of each hydrocarbon additive in Athabasca, Cold Lake and Lloydminster reservoirs. Varying mole percents of hexane, butane and methane were co-injected with steam in with different values of heavy oil viscosity. The effect of oil viscosity on the performance of each solvent was compared in terms of oil production rate and cumulative steam oil ratio.