Injection or co-injection of solvents has been proposed as an in-situ recovery mechanism for bitumen (Gupta et al., 2002). Solvent-based recovery schemes have several potential advantages over steam-based schemes such as SAGD. These benefits include lower GHG emissions and water requirements, lower capital intensity, and lower operating costs. Additionally, solvent-based recovery schemes have been proposed to improve the quality of produced bitumen (Jossy et al., 2008).

The primary mechanism for in-situ upgrading during a solvent injection process is solvent de-asphalting. Solvent de-asphalting is a proven commercial process for processing and upgrading oil in surface facilities such as refineries and upgraders. Several laboratory studies have shown that solvent de-asphalting can also occur in situ, resulting in API improvement in the produced bitumen (AITF report, 2017 and 2018, Brons and Yu, 1995).

In this work the economic benefits of upgrading bitumen in-situ will be studied. It will be shown that, at a given price environment, there exists an optimum level of upgrading (as measured by °API). Generally, too little upgrading reduces the value of bitumen due to blending and transportation costs, while too much upgrading reduces bitumen yield and ultimate recovery.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.