Heavy Oil

Despite the recent downturn, a significant number of pilot- or demonstration-scale applications of existing technologies to develop new heavy-oil fields or new technologies to develop existing fields have been reported over the past year. I have selected two of them (SPE 184974 and SPE 184154) in this issue. While they might be projects that started a few years ago when oil prices were at a peak level, they are interesting and still relevant because the projects have continued and valuable results and observations have been shared.

Reported cases of cost-effective applications such as well stimulation using chemicals and solvents have also been prominent over the past few years. Well-based applications such as stimulation or production optimization (SPE 184094) are quite useful to improve the productivity in smaller fields. On the other hand, efforts on cost reduction in large-scale thermal projects were obvious. Yet, in laboratory-scale experimental investigations, observations on the use of nanoparticles (SPE 184117) and new-generation chemicals to improve the efficiency of large-scale thermal and nonthermal (mainly chemical flooding) applications are very promising. I also would like to mention high-tech imaging applications to map the heat distribution in field-scale applications (SPE 184971). 

The areas listed seem to be the trend of new research studies and field applications along with optimization attempts on the basis of data-driven modeling. The focus will also be on new technology attempts toward the reduction of the cost of heavy-oil production, including lower-cost (solar panels) and in-situ steam generation (SPE 184118), minimizing steam needs by use of chemical additives and solvents (solvent-aided thermal—steam or electromagnetic—processes), and nonthermal applications (well stimulation by chemicals and solvents). 

I hope to read more papers in the coming years on the philosophical approaches to describing the problems and limitations of existing solutions because complex heavy-oil applications still need more effort on model development and experimental data generation. I included SPE 185633 in this issue as a good example of this kind of attempt.

This Month's Technical Papers

Chemical Stimulation at a Heavy-Oil Field: Key Considerations, Work Flow, and Results

Cyclic Steam Stimulation Results in High Water Retention for Kuwaiti Heavy-Oil Field

Doctrines vs. Realities in Reservoir Engineering

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 184118 In-Situ Steam Generation: A New Technology Application for Heavy-Oil Production by Ayman R. Al-Nakhli, Saudi Aramco, et al.

SPE 184117 Experimental Study for Enhancing Heavy-Oil Recovery by Nanofluid Followed by Steam Flooding NFSF by Osamah Alomair, Kuwait University, et al.

SPE 184094 Fluidic-Diode Autonomous Inflow-Control Device for Heavy-Oil Application by Georgina Corona, Halliburton, et al.

SPE 184971 Satellite Monitoring of Cyclic Steam Stimulation Without Corner Reflectors by Michael D. Henschel, MDA, et al.

Tayfun Babadagli, SPE, is a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, School of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, University of Alberta, where he holds an NSERC-Industrial Research Chair in Unconventional Oil Recovery. His areas of interest include modeling fluid and heat flow in heterogeneous and fractured reservoirs, reservoir characterization through stochastic and fractal methods, optimization of oil/heavy-oil recovery by conventional/unconventional enhanced-oil-recovery methods, and carbon dioxide sequestration. Babadagli holds BS and MS degrees from Istanbul Technical University and MS and PhD degrees from the University of Southern California, all in petroleum engineering. He was an executive editor for SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering during 2010–13 and is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee. Babadagli received SPE A Peer Apart status in 2013, was elected an SPE Distinguished Member in 2013, and was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2013–14.

Heavy Oil

Tayfun Babadagli, SPE, Professor, University of Alberta

01 March 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 3


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