Laboratory Studies of Oil Recovery by Steam Injection
- B.T. Willman (Jersey Production Research Co.) | V.V. Valleroy (Jersey Production Research Co.) | G.W. Runberg (Jersey Production Research Co.) | A.J. Cornelius (Jersey Production Research Co.) | L.W. Powers (Jersey Production Research Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1961
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 681 - 690
- 1961. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.6 Natural Gas, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.3.4 Scale, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing
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This paper reports the results of an investigation into the use of steam as a recovery agent. High oil recoveries by steam, as much as 100 per cent greater than by water flood, were demonstrated in laboratory linear cores. The principal mechanisms responsible for the additional oil have been identified as (1) thermal expansion of the oil, (2) viscosity reduction and (3) steam distillation. Although the first two also enhance recovery by hot water flood, they are effective with steam injection at lower volumes of produced fluids. Steam-zone residual oil saturation is independent of initial saturation. Recovery by steam is greater for lighter oils because they contain a greater fraction of steam-distillable components. Equations for the steam-zone advance in a radial homogeneous system are presented; these show the effect of reservoir parameters. The displacement in the hot liquid region moving ahead of the steam front can be estimated by a calculative procedure which is suggested. The method which takes account of the temperature gradient is applicable also to a regular hot water flood.
Considerable industry interest in the application of heat to petroleum reservoirs as a means of increasing oil recovery has been evident in the past few years. Three thermal methods which have attracted interest are (1) the injection of saturated steam, (2) the injection of hot water and (3) the injection of air into a formation to support combustion within the reservoir. Much has been published in recent years on underground burning, and there have been several papers on hot water injection. Although there are several early reports on steam injection, no recent experimental studies have been published on this recovery method. In our early thermal methods research, a marked improvement was found in oil recovery by steam injection compared with recovery by water injection in the same system. An investigation subsequently was undertaken to obtain quantitative information from which to evaluate steam injection as an oil recovery method. In addition, it was desired to investigate the recovery mechanism of hot water as compared with that of "cold" water and steam injection. An understanding of the mechanisms by which these processes operate would generally define favorable field conditions for their successful application. This paper reports the results of the laboratory study and suggests calculative approaches to estimate the field behavior of the steam-injection process.
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