Factors Affecting Fuel Availability and Composition During In Situ Combustion
- John D. Alexander (Continental Oil Co.) | W.L. Martin (Continental Oil Co.) | John N. Dew (Continental Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,154 - 1,164
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing
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This paper presents data obtained using a flood-pot technique to determine the fuel available and the corresponding theoretical air requirements for in situ combustion of crude oils. Since the technique is relatively quick and easy, it is a practical and convenient tool for evaluating reservoirs as fireflood prospects. It is also a research tool which facilitates systematic study of the variables affecting fuel availability and corresponding air requirements. The understanding of these variables is of prime importance to those concerned with the technical and economic development of in situ combustion as an oil-recovery process. The experimental results show conclusively that the fuel available for in situ combustion is not a constant but, rather, varies with crude-oil characteristics, porous-medium type, oil saturation, air flux and time-temperature relationships. Thus, the fuel availability for specified field applications should be determined using actual reservoir crude and core material and the process conditions expected during in situ combustion in the reservoir.
In situ combustion is a thermal process for recovering crude oil from reservoirs. The thermal energy released during the combustion of a small amount of the oil in place aids in the displacement of the remaining oil. Numerous articles have been published describing the in situ combustion process giving detailed results of laboratory and field experiments. In order to engineer an in situ combustion project, a number of important factors must be considered and determined. These factors include: (1) the amount of fuel consumed per unit of reservoir volume swept by the combustion zone, (2) the composition of the fuel consumed, (3) the amount of air required to consume this fuel, (4) the portion of the reservoir swept by the combustion zone, (5) the appropriate air-injection rates and pressures, (6) the amount of oil that will be recovered, (7) the rate of oil production and (8) the operating costs. Nelson and McNiel recently have described a procedure which utilizes laboratory combustion-tube data as a basis for the calculation of some of these design factors. Various authors have attempted to describe the in situ combustion process mathematically, and considerable progress has been made. Analytical solutions to the problem of heat transfer from a moving combustion front have been obtained for linear and radial systems. All of the published results involve the assumptions that: (1) fuel concentration is constant throughout the reservoir, or that fuel concentration is inversely proportional to the velocity of the front for a given rate of oxygen consumption; and (2) the fuel reacts instantaneously with injected oxygen, while liberating a constant amount of heat per unit weight of fuel at all temperatures. It seems both desirable and reasonable to test the validity of these assumptions experimentally. This paper presents laboratory data which were obtained by means of a "fire flood-pot" method for determining fuel availability and composition, and the corresponding theoretical air requirements for in situ combustion of crude oils under variable conditions. The mechanics of the method are similar to a conventional tube-run experiment. The important differences involve the size of the reservoir model used and the method for providing the experimental environment. The new method subjects conventionally-sized core samples or unconsolidated sands to a programmed environmental sequence similar to that experienced by a similar volume of rock during the approach and passage of a combustion front in a long tube or in an oil reservoir undergoing in situ combustion. Restored-state samples can also be used. The small samples and relatively simple techniques involved allow an experiment to be set up, run and calculated in about three 8-hour days. This is a considerable improvement over long-combustion-tube techniques which can require several days to run and several more work days to set up and calculate. All the runs presented were run at 40-psig injection pressure. Pressure was not considered as a variable for these experiments, since we previously had found that it had only a small effect on fuel availability up to 600 psig.
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