Mechanics of Heavy-Oil and Bitumen Recovery by Hot Solvent Injection
- Varun Pathak (University of Alberta) | Tayfun Babadagli (University of Alberta) | Neil Edmunds (Laricina Energy)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- April 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 182 - 194
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.5.8 History Matching, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 4.3.3 Aspaltenes, 1.8 Formation Damage, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex)
- heavy-oil reocvery, asphaltene precipitation, solvent phase behavior, hot solvent
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- 1,081 since 2007
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In earlier work (Pathak et al. 2010, 2011), we presented the initial results for heavy-oil and bitumen recovery using heated solvent vapors. The heavy-oil- and bitumen-saturated sandpack samples of different heights were exposed to heated vapors of butane or propane at a constant temperature and pressure for an extended duration of time. The produced oil was analyzed for recovery, asphaltene content, viscosity, composition, and refractive index. Recovery was found to be very sensitive to temperature and pressure.
The current work was undertaken to better understand the physics of the process and to explain the observations of the earlier experiments using additional experiments on tighter samples of different sizes, numerical simulation, and visualization experiments. The effects of temperature and pressure on the recovery were studied using a commercial reservoir simulator. Propane and butane were used as solvents. Asphaltene precipitation was also modeled. A qualitative history match with the experiments on different porous-media types was achieved by mainly considering the permeability reduction caused by asphaltene precipitation; pore plugging; the extent of interaction between the solvent and oil phases; and parameters such as model height, vertical permeability, and gravity. The effect of asphaltene deposition on models of varying permeabilities was also studied.
To investigate the phenomenon further, visualization experiments were performed. 2D Hele-Shaw models of different dimensions were constructed by joining two Plexiglass sheets from three sides, or in some experiments, from all sides. The models were saturated with heavy oil and left open on one side (or all sides) and were exposed to different types of solvents. The setup was monitored continuously to observe fluid fronts and asphaltene precipitation.
By use of this analysis, the mechanics of the process was clarified from the effect of solvent type on the recovery process. The optimum operating temperature for the hot-solvent process and the dominant mechanisms were identified. The dynamics of the asphaltene deposition and its effect on oil recovery were clarified through visual and numerical models.
|File Size||5 MB||Number of Pages||13|
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