Development of an Underground Heat Wave for Oil Recovery
- Bruce F. Grant (Sinclair Research Laboratories Inc.) | Stefan E. Szasz (Sinclair Research Laboratories Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- May 1954
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 23 - 33
- 1954. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion
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During 1947, a Sinclair research team was assigned to investigate thermal methods of oil recovery. The assignment was recommended by a survey of possible research approaches to increase the amount of oil that ultimately can be recovered from oil producing reservoirs. The use of heat to stimulate, oil production rates by the melting of paraffin deposited in well bores can be traced back to within one or two decades of the drilling of the Drake well.
The application of heat on a larger scale has been discussed by generations of oil producers. Shortly after the turn of the century, one intrepid operator is reported to have injected steam into a Pennsylvania property. After a few weeks, he apparently became discouraged and terminated his experiment. Subsequently, the literature contains references to several well-developed techniques for supplying heat to a producing well bore to melt paraffin or to reduce the viscosity of oil contained in. the formation immediately around the well bore. Some early references discuss procedures to furnish heat to the reservoir, with the injection well as the heat source, thus obligating the process to maintain the entire rock mass at a temperature above that at which the desired improvement in oil recovery would occur.
Another approach to reservoir heating was reported by a group of Russian technologists in 1935. They definitely demonstrated that combustion can occur within the porous structure of an oil-bearing sandstone. Their field experiments, however, relied less on combustion within the rock than on heat furnished by combustion of oil supplied to the injection well bore. Ignition of the air-oil mixtures in the well bore was found very difficult, and the field tests were carried on for only short periods of time. Publication of the Russian work spurred at least one independent operator in this country to try firing an air-gas injection well. on for only short periods of time.
Publication of the Russian work spurred at least one independent operator in this country to try firing an air-gas injection well. The Brundred Oil Corp. reportedly obtained combustion in the sand immediately around the injection well bore, but the experiment was abandoned because of interference with normal production schedules. Injection capacity of the experimental well was greatly reduced by firing. The well was reshot and pieces of sand showing partial fusing of the quartz matrix were recovered.
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