New Hybrid Steam-Solvent Processes for the Recovery of Heavy Oil and Bitumen
T.N. Nasr and O.R. Ayodele, Alberta Research Council
Copyright 2006, Society of Petroleum Engineers
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2006 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum
Exhibition and Conference held in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., 5–8 November 2006.
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Canada has declining reserves of conventional oil, but vast
reserves of heavy oil and bitumen. Over 90% of the world’s
heavy oil and bitumen trapped in sandstones and carbonatesare deposited in Canada and Venezuela. Up to 80% of
estimated reserves could be recovered by in-situ thermal
operation. The current in-situ thermal technologies such as
cyclic steam stimulation (CSS), steam flooding and steamassisted gravity drainage (SAGD) are energy intensive and use
large quantities of fresh water. Increasing pressure of
environmental concerns and the threat of a carbon taxwill
make it imperative to find new oil extraction technologies that
are less energy intensive and that use less water. Combining
technologies in the form of hybrid steam-solvent processes
offer the potential of higher oil rates and recoveries, but at less
energy and water consumption than processes such as SAGD.
At the Alberta Research Council, new hybrid steam-solvent
processes have been undergoingdevelopment in recent years.
The Expanding Solvent-SAGD (ES-SAGD)(1-2), is aimed at
improving and extending SAGD performance by solvent
addition to steam. The improvements include higher and faster
drainage rates, lower energy and water requirements and
reduced green house gas (GHG) emissions. The Thermal
Solvent Hydrid process focuses on combining solvent with a
small amount of steam in a VAPEX(vapour extraction)
process (3-4). This process offers the potential of higher rates
than cold solvent VAPEX at less energy consumption than
Hybrid steam-solvent processes, when fully developed, will
extract oil at lower cost than SAGD and will also open
currently marginal resources for exploitation, increasing oil
reserves. This paper presents and discusses the principal
concepts and keyparameters for the new hybrid steam-solvent
processes and compares expected performance to SAGD.
The goal of this paper is to provide a summary of the hybrid
steam-solvent processes developed at the Alberta Research
Council (ARC), which include ES-SAGD and thermal solvent
hybrid and provide some laboratory and field examples of
these and other steam-solvent hydrid processes developedin
recent years. The hybrid steam-solvent processes results at
ARC illustrated the potential to develop an improved process
that will significantly reduce energy, water and GHG intensity
as compared to SAGD, therefore reducing operating cost
while maintaining economic oil recovery rates.
ES-SAGD laboratory experimental results in Athabasca
illustrate 17-30% increase in oil production over that...