Alternative process of Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) method for bitumen recovery from oil sands reservoirs has been studied to improve production cost, thermal efficiency and environmental issues. A new production process called as the Cyclic Huff & Puff method has been proposed in this study. The method uses injecting a hot surfactant solution using horizontal wells in a staggered arrangement. In this research, viscosity measurements of original oil and emulsion in type of oil-in-water (O/W) formed by the solution of Poly Vinyl Alcohol (PVA) were carried out in order to confirm the viscosity reduction of bitumen at relatively low temperature (<150ºC). The viscosity was apparently reduced to around 18cP from 100000cP of the original bitumen at 150ºC. It was also confirmed by the laboratory experiment that PVA solution and bitumen formed the emulsion within a half hour after contacting in the beaker. Those measurement results were applied to numerical simulations by CMG STARS™. The numerical model was assumed that horizontal wells are placed at upper oil sands reservoir and other horizontal wells are located at its bottom in the staggered arrangement. When the hot PVA solution is injected from the upper wells, other bottom wells produce fluids. After a certain period, upper and lower wells are operated as opposite functions. The simulations were carried out to simulate formation of bitumen emulsion with hot PVA solution of 100°C and the emulsion move to production wells in a typical oil sands reservoir. The simulation results show that the Cyclic Huff & Puff method has a potential to be a production scheme for oil sands reservoir with less cost and higher thermal efficiency than that of SAGD method.


Heavy oil and bitumen are challenging task because of the high viscosity (over 10,000cP) and the consequent low mobility and flow ability of the oil (Alvarez et al. 2009). Historically, oil field viscosity reduction has been mainly carried out by heating through steam injection and/or diluent injection (Gateau et al. 2004). However, alternative process of SAGD method is required, since SAGD is facing a problem of high cost to generate steam with natural gas and large amount of recycling water.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.