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New Insights Into Steam/Solvent-Coinjection-Process Mechanism
- Raman K. Jha (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Mridul Kumar (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Ian Benson (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Edward Hanzlik (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- July 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 867 - 877
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.3.9 Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, 5.4.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods
- 5 in the last 30 days
- 457 since 2007
- Show more detail
We present results of a detailed investigation of thesteam/solvent-coinjection-process mechanism by use of a numerical model withhomogeneous reservoir properties and various solvents. We describe condensationof steam/solvent mixture near the chamber boundary. We present a compositepicture of the important phenomena occurring in the different regions of thereservoir and their implications for oil recovery. We compare performances ofvarious solvents and explain the reasons for the observed differences. Animproved understanding of the process mechanism will help with selecting thebest solvent and developing the best operating strategy for a given reservoir.Results indicate that as the temperature drops near the chamber boundary, steamstarts condensing first because its mole fraction in the injected steam/solventmixture (and hence its partial pressure and the corresponding saturationtemperature) is much higher than the solvent's. As temperature declines towardthe chamber boundary and steam continues to condense, the vapor phase becomesincreasingly richer in solvent. At the chamber boundary where the temperaturebecomes equal to the condensation temperature of both steam and solvent attheir respective partial pressures, both condense simultaneously. Thus,contrary to steam-only injection, where condensation occurs at the injectedsteam temperature, condensation of steam/solvent mixture is accompanied by areduction in temperature in the condensation zone and the farther regions.However, there is little change in temperature in the central region of thesteam chamber. The condensed steam/solvent mixture drains outside the chamber,leading to the formation of a mobile liquid stream (drainage region) whereheated oil, condensed solvent, and water flow together to the production well.The condensed solvent mixes with the heated oil and further reduces itsviscosity. The additional reduction in viscosity by solvent more than offsetsthe effect of reduced temperature near the chamber boundary. As the steamchamber expands laterally because of continued injection and as temperature inthe hitherto drainage region increases, a part of the condensed solvent mixedwith oil evaporates. This lowers the residual oil saturation (ROS) in the steamchamber. Therefore, ultimate oil recovery with the steam/solvent-coinjectionprocess is higher than that in steam-only injection. The higher the solventconcentration in oil at a location, the greater is the reduction in the ROSthere. Our explanation is corroborated by the experimental results reported inthe literature, which show smaller ROS in the steam chamber after asteam/solvent-coinjection process. A lighter solvent has a lower viscosity, ahigher volatility, and a higher molar concentration of solvent in the drainageregion.Thus, a lighter solvent causes a greater reduction in the viscosity ofthe heated oil and also leads to a lower ROS. Therefore, the lightestcondensable solvent (butane, under the conditions investigated) provides themost favorable results in terms of enhancements in oil rate and oil recovery.This is different from the prior claims in the literature.
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