The worldwide global demand for oil has grown to 80 million barrels per day, and is estimated to grow by 50% in next 20 years while conventional resources are declining. Unconventional reserve of heavy oil and bitumen has been considered as long term replacement for conventional resources. There are a large number of research projects in order to achieve this goal with technological efficiency. In situ upgrading of heavy oil and bitumen using Ultra Dispersed (UD) submicronic catalysts is a promising idea to improve the quality of produced liquid. In this process, hydrogen and a catalytic suspension are injected to the reservoir to react with heavy oil in the porous media. Nano catalyst particles enhance the recovery of oil by viscosity reduction. Series of experiments have been designed in an elemental model under typical reservoir condition. Tests are performed at a pressure of 500 Psi, residence time of 36 h, and temperatures from 300 to 340 (°C).
This paper presents the results of the in situ upgrading obtained along with the recovery of bitumen evidenced using ultra dispersed catalysts in an experimental rig. These experiments involve the injection of UD catalyst particles and hydrogen into a sand pack which is saturated with Athabasca bitumen. Produced liquids were analyzed with different techniques and results were demonstrated in recovery curves. Also, results of each experiment have been compared with base steam injection case to evaluate recovery performance of the catalyst suspended in a hot fluid. Temperature profile distributions and produced gas analysis are demonstrated to justify the quality of reaction through porous media. Produced liquids from media have higher API gravity and lower viscosity which shows a successful in situ upgrading process.