Technology Focus: Heavy Oil (March 2010)
- Cam Matthews (C-FER Technologies)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 2010
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 60 - 60
- 2010. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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What does the term “heavy oil” mean to you, the broad JPT readership? There are of course the various formal definitions that are tied mainly to API-gravity values (i.e., commonly <22°API), while others reflect both oil density and viscosity (preferentially referring to in-situ conditions). In general, however, recent literature suggests that heavy oil means quite different things to different people throughout this industry because it is used to cover a wide spectrum of reservoir conditions and field developments.
Only a decade or so ago, papers written about heavy oil typically referred to developments in Canada, China, USA (California), or Venezuela. Now, however, papers describing heavy-oil projects cover a much broader range, both geographically and in terms of the reservoir conditions involved, with a key distinction between onshore and offshore developments. Now, various types of onshore heavy-oil developments are under way in many countries and regions including the Middle East (Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia), Russia, Africa (Chad, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Libya), USA (Alaska), India, and Europe. Over the past few years, interest has grown rapidly in developing heavy-oil deposits off-shore Brazil, Mexico, Africa, China, Italy, Trinidad, Cuba, and elsewhere. These offshore fields include both carbonate and sandstone reservoirs with in-situ oil viscosities typically less than 400 cp. While such viscosity values are quite low relative to traditional onshore heavy-oil developments, they certainly can present significant technical challenges in an offshore environment.
The diversity among these recent heavy-oil developments is significant in terms of the recovery strategies being pursued and the technical challenges that must be overcome. These challenges include choice of recovery method, reservoir characterization and performance, complex-well-design and well-integrity considerations, production and artificial-lift difficulties, as well as fluid-processing difficulties.
The papers included in this feature were selected to showcase the wide range of heavy-oil developments under way throughout the world and the novel strategies and technology pursuits that go along with them.
Heavy Oil additional reading available at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org
PETSOC 2009-067 • “Evaluation of Recovery Technologies for the Grosmont Carbonate Reservoirs” by Q. Jiang, SPE, Osum Oil Sands Corporation, et al.
SPE 113625 • “The Zatchi B Heavy-Oil-Reservoir Development: The Unique Challenges of the TAML6 Multilateral Well ZAM-408ML” by L. Tealdi, SPE, Eni Congo, et al.
SPE 115240 • “Key Technologies of Polymer Flooding in Offshore Oil Field of Bohai Bay” by W. Zhou, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, et al.
SPE 121381 • “When Water Means Oil: Block 16 Case History” by C. Correa Feria, Repsol, et al.
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