Radio-Frequency Heating Combined With Solvent Injection for Heavy-Oil Recovery

Topics: Heavy oil/tar sands

The most popular technology for producing heavy oil (HO) and bitumen is reservoir heating, mainly by steam injection. Electromagnetic (EM) heating is a capable alternative. Radio-frequency heating (RFH) results from the microwave effect and has the advantage of avoiding problems associated with water supply and treatment. The advantages of RFH technology can be strengthened with solvent injection. After a period of preheating, solvent injection may lead to improved oil recovery because of additional decrease in oil viscosity.


The complexity of HO recovery has inspired profound modifications in production technology. To find a successful technology, combinations of known mechanisms are considered frequently. Many of these modifications use solvent coinjection.

No single commercial reservoir simulator is able to compute the interaction of an RF antenna with a reservoir. Despite this, field-scale RFH simulations have been performed with coupled simulators, which separately model reservoir dynamics and in-situ EM-field distribution. Although limited in computational performance, this approach can be used successfully for field-scale simulations. 

The principal object of the numerical study presented in this paper is the solvent/HO mixture under RFH conditions in an HO reservoir. The study has attempted to shed light on whether solvent-assisted RFH technology is capable of improving oil-recovery efficiency and to specify its advantages and drawbacks in a typical Athabasca deposit.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 180709, “Heavy-Oil Recovery by a Combination of Radio-Frequency Heating With Solvent Injection,” by I. Bogdanov, SPE, S. Cambon, and M. Mujica, CHLOE, and A. Brisset, SPE, Total, prepared for the 2016 SPE Canada Heavy Oil Technical Conference, Calgary, 7–9 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Radio-Frequency Heating Combined With Solvent Injection for Heavy-Oil Recovery

01 March 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 3