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Modeling Enhanced Thermal Recovery of Heavy Oils

Fusetti, Luc *1; Behar, Francoise 3; Lapene, Alexandre 2; Kumar, Jitendra 2; Corre, Bernard 2
(1) TOTAL Research Center QATAR, Doha, Qatar. (2) TOTAL Technical Center, Pau, France. (3) IFP, Rueil Malmaison, France.

Due to the extended alteration phenomena (e.g. biodegradation) leading to heavy oils through geological time, the production of such non conventional resources faces the challenge to mobilize hydrocarbon fluids of sometimes extremely high viscosities.

When pit mining is not feasible or when cold production methods (e.g. Solution Gas Drive, Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand, Injection of Water Viscosification Polymers, VAPour EXpansion Process) do not offer satisfying recovery factors; thermal recovery techniques such as Steam Injection or In Situ Upgrading can be considered to produce these reservoirs. Steam Injection decreases the viscosity of hydrocarbon fluids in place by increasing the formation temperature. In Situ Upgrading pre-upgrades the OIP by substantial heating of its environment (without adding water), inducing the production of higher quality oil.

Both Steam Injection and In Situ Upgrading processes imply compositional modifications of the OIP which have to be correctly predicted in order to perform accurate reservoir simulations during field’s life.

The focus of the present study is to present our last developments in predicting enhanced thermal recovery of heavy oils:

a)Elaboration of an up to date compositional kinetic model for oil to gas cracking

b)Core scale laboratory experiments mimicking thermal recovery of heavy oils

c)Numerical simulations by coupling kinetic modeling, thermal propagation and polyphasic thermodynamics

Focusing on the in situ upgrading process, simulations will provide, at various temperatures between 300°C and 400°C, the evolution of cumulated and instantaneous yields for the whole range of products i.e hydrocarbon and non hydrocarbon gases, light and heavy cuts, pyrobitumen.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90141©2012, GEO-2012, 10th Middle East Geosciences Conference and Exhibition, 4-7 March 2012, Manama, Bahrain