Vapor Extraction is a solvent-leaching gravity drainage-based process that can be used for improving recovery factors from0020low-pressure heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs. Despite numerous experimental and numerical studies having been conducted, the associated production mechanisms in this process are still poorly understood. This paper presents the details of a new experimental approach that can overcome limitations of previous physical models for representative simulation of capillarity and drainage height effects on performance of the vapor extraction process. Unlike other studies in literature, the physical models in this study were designed to provide a constant composition solvent surface at one face of the heavy oil saturated sandpack. To eliminate the effect of pressure surges, a new effluent collection system was successfully designed and tested. This experimental setup made it possible to study the interplay between the selected parameters on stabilized drainage rates under effects of capillary and gravity forces. Here, a comprehensive experimental study was conducted in two 2D visual physical models using Plover Lake oil from west-central Saskatchewan and n-butane as solvent in the permeability range of 5.1–6.5D. This paper discusses the significant effects of capillarity and drainage height on the stabilized drainage rates, Vapex dimensionless number, and efficiency of mass transfer phenomena in the Vapex process. This study provides in-depth knowledge necessary for developing more reliable mass transfer models to depict the vapor extraction process in the presence of capillary forces.

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