Transformation of Resources to Reserves: Next Generation Heavy-Oil Recovery Techniques

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This final report and technical progress report describes work performed from October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2007 for the project 'Transformation of Resources to Reserves: Next Generation Heavy Oil Recovery Techniques', DE-FC26-04NT15526. Critical year 3 activities of this project were not undertaken because of reduced funding to the DOE Oil Program despite timely submission of a continuation package and progress on year 1 and 2 subtasks. A small amount of carried-over funds were used during June-August 2007 to complete some work in the area of foamed-gas mobility control. Completion of Year 3 activities and tasks would have led to ... continued below

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Stanford University. Department of Energy Resources Engineering. September 30, 2007.

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  • Stanford University
    Publisher Info: Leland Stanford Junior University
    Place of Publication: United States

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Description

This final report and technical progress report describes work performed from October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2007 for the project 'Transformation of Resources to Reserves: Next Generation Heavy Oil Recovery Techniques', DE-FC26-04NT15526. Critical year 3 activities of this project were not undertaken because of reduced funding to the DOE Oil Program despite timely submission of a continuation package and progress on year 1 and 2 subtasks. A small amount of carried-over funds were used during June-August 2007 to complete some work in the area of foamed-gas mobility control. Completion of Year 3 activities and tasks would have led to a more thorough completion of the project and attainment of project goals. This progress report serves as a summary of activities and accomplishments for years 1 and 2. Experiments, theory development, and numerical modeling were employed to elucidate heavy-oil production mechanisms that provide the technical foundations for producing efficiently the abundant, discovered heavy-oil resources of the U.S. that are not accessible with current technology and recovery techniques. Work fell into two task areas: cold production of heavy oils and thermal recovery. Despite the emerging critical importance of the waterflooding of viscous oil in cold environments, work in this area was never sanctioned under this project. It is envisioned that heavy oil production is impacted by development of an understanding of the reservoir and reservoir fluid conditions leading to so-called foamy oil behavior, i.e, heavy-oil solution gas drive. This understanding should allow primary, cold production of heavy and viscous oils to be optimized. Accordingly, we evaluated the oil-phase chemistry of crude oil samples from Venezuela that give effective production by the heavy-oil solution gas drive mechanism. Laboratory-scale experiments show that recovery correlates with asphaltene contents as well as the so-called acid number (AN) and base number (BN) of the crude oil. A significant number of laboratory-scale tests were made to evaluate the solution gas drive potential of West Sak (AK) viscous oil. The West Sak sample has a low acid number, low asphaltene content, and does not appear foamy under laboratory conditions. Tests show primary recovery of about 22% of the original oil in place under a variety of conditions. The acid number of other Alaskan North Slope samples tests is greater, indicating a greater potential for recovery by heavy-oil solution gas drive. Effective cold production leads to reservoir pressure depletion that eases the implementation of thermal recovery processes. When viewed from a reservoir perspective, thermal recovery is the enhanced recovery method of choice for viscous and heavy oils because of the significant viscosity reduction that accompanies the heating of oil. One significant issue accompanying thermal recovery in cold environments is wellbore heat losses. Initial work on thermal recovery found that a technology base for delivering steam, other hot fluids, and electrical heat through cold subsurface environments, such as permafrost, was in place. No commercially available technologies are available, however. Nevertheless, the enabling technology of superinsulated wells appears to be realized. Thermal subtasks focused on a suite of enhanced recovery options tailored to various reservoir conditions. Generally, electrothermal, conventional steam-based, and thermal gravity drainage enhanced oil recovery techniques appear to be applicable to 'prime' Ugnu reservoir conditions to the extent that reservoir architecture and fluid conditions are modeled faithfully here. The extent of reservoir layering, vertical communication, and subsurface steam distribution are important factors affecting recovery. Distribution of steam throughout reservoir volume is a significant issue facing thermal recovery. Various activities addressed aspects of steam emplacement. Notably, hydraulic fracturing of horizontal steam injection wells and implementation of steam trap control that limits steam entry into horizontal production wells overcomes many of the problems associated with implementation of thermal gravity drainage processes in heterogeneous sands. In a steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) well pattern, hydraulically fractured injectors were able to achieve significantly improved reservoir heating and improvements to oil-steam ratio. On the opposite side of the steam injection spectrum, steam often channels through high-permeability zones. Foamed steam stabilized by aqueous surfactants is promising to alter steam flow, but has yet to be tested and simulated under SAGD conditions. The mechanistic population balance method for describing foam flow was extended to a local equilibrium framework that reduces computational costs and is promising for simulation of the effects of foamed steam in 3D.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-04NT15526
  • DOI: 10.2172/927775 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 927775
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc894435

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Creation Date

  • September 30, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Jan. 23, 2018, 2:17 p.m.

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Stanford University. Department of Energy Resources Engineering. Transformation of Resources to Reserves: Next Generation Heavy-Oil Recovery Techniques, report, September 30, 2007; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894435/: accessed August 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.