Case History of South Belridge, California, In-Situ Combustion Oil Recovery
- H.J. Ramey Jr. (Stanford U.) | V.W. Stamp (Consultant) | F.N. Pebdani (Mobil Oil Canada) | J.E. Mallinson (Mobil E and P Services Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE/DOE Enhanced Oil Recovery Symposium, 22-24 April, Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 1992. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.6.5 Tracers, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.3.4 Scale
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Pilot in-situ combustion oil recovery operations began in the South Belridge Field in 1963, and commercial operations began on a 164-acre area in 1964. This operation ended in 1986 when an air compressor failed. South Belridge oil In place of a third of billion barrels of oil with an estimated 8 percent recovery inspired interest in thermal oil recovery in 1947. This study presents results of 22 years of commercial in-situ combustion at South Belridge.
Although continuous steam injection is the most important thermal oil recovery operation in South Belridge, in-situ combustion offers opportunity for extending thermal operations in other fields far beyond bounds appropriate for steam injection. Results at South Belridge for both commercial steam injection and in-situ combustion have been published. Steam injection Is among the best in California, and in-situ combustion is considered average for California conditions.
At South Belridge, the surface energy requirement per barrel of oil produced by insitu combustion was about one fifth that required for steam drive. The pounds of flue gas generated per barrel of oil recovery from in-situ combustion was about half that required for steam drive. Emulsions were produced by in-situ combustion, but posed no special problems. Well failures for in-situ combustion were similar to those for steam drive once old (pre-1964) completions were replaced.
The ratio of cum. inj. air to cum. prod. oil was 3.7 MCF/BBL, about a third of the design ratio. In-situ combustion offers an efficient extension of thermal enhanced oil recovery to deep, high-pressure, low-oil-reactivity formations.
A letter from H.N.Marsh to R.O.Swayze of The General Petroleum Corporation (Mobil Oil) dated April 16, 1947 estimated original oil in place in the South Belridge Field at a third of a billion barrels and ultimate recovery as 8%. He described a conference In their Bakersfield office at which "ideas which may be fantastic were encouraged". of the many ideas considered at that meeting, application of heat by combustion appeared promising and Marsh wrote "it is proposed to request the Dallas Laboratory to give some theoretical study to the economics of underground combustion". R.O.Swayze forwarded Marsh's letter to M.S.App, Director of Production, with the interesting comment "Marsh and I had under consideration a scheme to drill a well on Moco 34 and when the oil zone was encountered, drift the hole at a fairly flat angle parallel to the bedding in the oil zone ... "
By 1954, many laboratory and two small-scale field tests of in-situ combustion indicated promise, and a 2.5-acre isolated pilot test was started In 1956 in Section 10 of the South Belridge Field in the Tulare formation. This project was supported by 12 oil companies and results through 1957 were presented by Gates and Ramey . In-situ combustion continued through 1959. Results through 1959 were presented by Gates, et al. in 1978.
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