An Investigation Into Optimal Solvent Use and the Nature of Vapor/Liquid Interface in Solvent-Aided SAGD Process With a Semianalytical Approach
- Subodh C. Gupta (Cenovus Energy) | Simon Gittins (Cenovus Energy)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- December 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,255 - 1,264
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.9 Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex)
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- 390 since 2007
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The steam-assisted gravity-drainage (SAGD) process is used widely to recover heavy oil and bitumen from formations in which no other recovery method has proved to be economical. It is an energy-intensive process, and because of economic and environmental reasons, solvents as additives to the injected steam are being explored currently to reduce the energy and emissions intensity of SAGD. The solvent-aided process (SAP), tested in the field and described in the literature, is one such attempt.
In the SAP, a small amount of hydrocarbon solvent is introduced as an additive to the injected steam. Thus, the viscosity of the oil is also reduced because of solvent dilution in addition to heating. The SAP can improve the energy efficiency of SAGD significantly, thus reducing the heat requirement, as shown in field trials discussed elsewhere. However, on the use of the right amount of solvent that can result in best overall performance, there is very little discussion in the literature. Because of the high cost of such solvents, there is incentive to optimize their use in SAGD. Recently, various authors have attempted to address the subject with, for example, arbitrary time-dependent schemes of solvent injections, assessing their impact on results or by treating the internal reservoir dynamics as a black box and using optimization methods, such as genetic algorithms (GAs), to estimate the optimal amount of solvent. While these approaches orient us to the problem in a context-specific manner, it is believed a generalized treatment to estimate optimal use of solvent requires a mechanism-based understanding.
The approach presented in this paper is aimed at estimating the optimal solvent in the context of SAGD. It combines the existing Butler's oil-drainage analytical models (Butler 1985, 1988, 1994) for SAGD and vapor extraction (VAPEX), which deal with heating effect and solvent-dilution effect one at a time, into one. Then, it calculates the time-dependent steam rates to maintain the predicted oil rates in conjunction with solvent rates and, thus, estimates the solvent/steam ratio (SSR) and the steam/oil ratio (SOR). The results are discussed for a few light-alkane solvents. In the process of this exercise, it is discovered that to obtain reasonable SSR and SOR, a significant amount of oil has to drain from a diffuse layer, which has a varying temperature, solvent concentration, and gas saturation (from maximum gas saturation at the injection end to zero at the vapor/liquid interface).
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