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Low Carbon Intensity Processes for
Low-Mobility Oil Recovery

27 July–1 August 2014 :: Newport Beach, California, USA


Technical Agenda

Session I: How do we Measure Our Success in Meeting Heavy and Tight-Oil Challenges?

Session Managers: Tony Kovscek and Chick Wattenbarger

Existing recovery processes for low-mobility oil may be energy- and carbon-intensive. Alternative methods that reduce energy and carbon intensity have the potential to be more efficient and profitable with lower environmental impact. This opening session examines key questions including what challenges must be met, what are the criteria for judging success, and how we know what success looks like.

Session II: Challenges for Tight Oil Production

Session Managers: Tony Murer and Fred Wassmuth

Tight oil reservoir classifications vary from oil shales, to shale oil, to oils in chalks and diatomaceous zones, essentially encompassing light and heavy oil in reservoirs with extremely low permeability. Engineers and geologist are challenged with producing such low-mobility oil from a myriad of reservoir situations. The oil recovery techniques range from primary production, to water and gas injection processes, and thermal applications such as steam and in-situ combustion. A quick overview on the tight oil sources and challenges on oil production will be provided at the beginning of this session. Since a variety of recovery processes can be applied in recovering tight oil, there are opportunities and synergies that should be exploited in reducing the carbon footprint on tight oil production.

Session III: Non-Thermal Methods

Session Managers: Tony Kovscek and Birol Dindoruk

Viscous oils may have significant mobility, but are suffering from being less mobile in comparison to water at reservoir temperature. Discussions in this session focus on nascent and emerging methodologies, as well as reservoir engineering, for moving viscous oil at initial temperature.

Session IV: Enhanced Reservoir Access

Session Managers: Cal Coulter and David Law

Approximately 5000 years ago wells were drilled, 150 years ago wells were fractured, 85 years ago directional drilling was pioneered, 65 years ago hydraulic fracturing was introduced, 15 years ago rotary steerable technology was developed and 10 years ago multi-stage fracturing became popular to better access ever more challenging reservoir and fluid conditions. What is the next game changing technology, how can we promote its development and how will it change our world?

Session V: Non-Steam Reservoir Heating Methods

Session Managers: Bill O'Brien and Raj Mehta

For nearly a century, air as well as electrical energy has been used for improving oil recovery from petroleum reservoirs. The session will focus on the application of the technologies and experience in novel and/or hybrid ways to unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs for enhancing the recovery and product value while reducing environmental footprint.

The discussion topics include:

  • In-situ combustion and in-situ upgrading
  • High-pressure air injection (HPAI) in unconventional reservoirs
  • Cyclic combustion into unconventional reservoirs
  • Air injection as a post-cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS) process
  • Combustion assisted gravity drainage
  • Nanoparticles
  • Electrical

Session VI: Enhanced Steam Injection

Session Managers: Chick Wattenbarger and Cal Coulter

Steam is widely used in commercial recovery methods for viscous oils and bitumen. However, steam recovery methods can be energy-intensive and their applicability may be limited for thin or lower quality reservoirs. This session will focus on ways to enhance the carbon efficiency of steam-based methods.

Topics include:

  • Hybrid methods that make steam with other additives such as solvents, oxygen, or non-condensable gases
  • Steam foam, and the use of steam for recovery of lighter oil in tight rock

Session VII: Challenges in Reservoir Modeling and Surveillance of Unconventional Technologies

Session Managers: David Law and Vijay Shrivastava

Modeling complex physics of the unconventional recovery processes is an important reservoir engineering challenge. It may be the growth of wormholes in a heavy oil reservoir, fluid flow in nano-darcy formation, dynamic geomechanical coupling in a thermal recovery process, diffusion/dispersion in a steam+solvent/additive recovery process, or fracture growth in a tight oil reservoir, to list only a few. Principles of upscaling from lab to pilot to field application are undefined. However, reasonable performance prediction and optimization is very essential for the technical and commercial viability of these unconventional processes.

Session VIII: Surface and Subsurface Synergy

Session Managers: Swapan Das and Bill O'Brien

A significant amount of energy/natural gas and water is used in the exploitation of these unconventional resources. Treatment and transportation of produced fluids may require innovative approaches. Any upset in the surface facilities has greater impact on the rate and recovery in these processes than in a conventional case. Subsurface-surface integration is also essential in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the environmental footprint. Effective recycle/reuse methods, alternative sources and synergy between different processes need to be explored.

Session IX: Interactive Session and Way to the Future

Session Managers: Reza Fassihi and Mridul Kumar

In this interactive session, we will summarize key learnings from each of the previous sessions. Participants are encouraged to partake in open discussion to map the way forward and identify future applications.