"EMERGING TRENDS IN
HEAVY OIL EXPLOITATION"

Dr. John D.M. Belgrave, Belgrave Oil and Gas Corp.

Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry (FIPI) R & D Conclave, Goa, India
August 22nd – 24th, 2018.

Supplying 32.9% of all energy, oil remains the world’s primary fuel and its substitution in the transport sector is not yet imminent. Global oil demand is every growing: 67 million b/d in 1990, 77 million b/d in 2000, and 91 million b/d in 2014. Growth in per capital GDP is strongly correlated with energy consumption.

The importance of heavy oil in the energy mix cannot be overstated. Globally, heavy, extra heavy and bitumen oil resources total around 10 trillion barrels, nearly 3 times the conventional oil place. This huge resource is not without exploitation challenges.

Steam injection has historically been the predominant and most successful technology for recovery of heavy oils. In jurisdictions with restricted availability of fresh water for steam generation, water recycling, co-injection of solvents with steam, steam plus air injection, injection of electrically heated solvents are strategies being used reduce water requirement.

Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage and Fracture-Assisted Cyclic Steam Stimulation are technologies being used to overcome lack of injectivity with extra heavy oil and bitumen situations.
Much of the global heavy oil resource exists in deposits that are too thin to economically justify steam injection, due to low oil content and significant heat loss to adjacent strata. In Canada heavy oils up to 10,000 cp viscosity are considered commercial prospects for polymer flooding using parallel horizontal wells. Heavier oils, containing adequate solution gas, are also being produced along with the reservoir sand on cold flow. Pressure cycling combustion using horizontal wells has also been successful.

Deeper reservoirs containing higher pressures offer unique challenges to steam injection: high steam temperatures and well bore heat losses, and lower steam latent heat. Here the choice of well construction materials and steam injection strategy mitigates these issues.

This presentation discusses these challenges in the context of useful and successful case histories.

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