New Heavy oil recovery process can get over 80% of oil in place and is 11% better than previous method

A new enhanced heavy oil recovery (EHOR) process called Cyclic Production with Continuous Solvent Injection (CPCSI) has been developed at the University of Regina in Canada.

In this process, a vapourized solvent near its dew point is continuously injected into the reservoir to maintain reservoir pressure and also supply extra gas drive to flush the diluted oil out through an injector that is located on the top of the reservoir; while a producer, which is located at the bottom of the reservoir, is operated in a shut-in/open cyclic way. A series of experiments have been conducted to evaluate the CPCSI performance. The recovery factors (RFs) are up to 85% of original oil in place (OOIP) in 1-D tests, and the RF is improved by 11% by using the 2-D lateral CPCSI, compared with the traditional 2-D lateral VAPEX. Well configurations and the producer shut-in/open scenarios are key optimization factors that affect the CPCSI performance. Experimental results show that the foamy oil flow and solvent trap are the two major EHOR mechanisms for enhancing the oil production rate during the production period. In comparison with continuous injection process, such as vapour extraction (VAPEX), and cyclic injection process, such as cyclic solvent injection (CSI), CPCSI offers free gas driving, and the reservoir pressure is maintained during the producer opening period so that the diluted oil viscosity is kept low. This work shows that CPCSI could be an alternative optimization production scenario for applying solvent based in situ EHOR techniques for heavy oil reservoirs in Western Canada.

Highlights
• We tested a new enhanced heavy oil recovery technique, named cyclic production with continuous solvent injection (CPCSI).
• 1-D and 2-D experimental tests were conducted to test the performance of this process.
• The oil recovery factor for this process can reach 80%.
• Compared with the classical VAPEX process, the oil recovery factor is increased by 11%.

This solvent based approach would work far better than SAGD for thin heavy oil formations.

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