Reservoir Engineering and Enhanced Oil Recovery

Steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is the most commonly used technique for the development of Alberta oil-sand resources. However, this technique involves heavy consumption of water and energy, and thus, creates various environmental issues. Injection of additives such as solvents has been proposed to reduce water and heat consumption for optimizing the recovery process. Currently, the industry is facing serious challenges such as low recovery of solvent and poor understanding of in-situ recovery mechanisms. This research will investigate the fate of injected solvent by conducting experiments using a state-of-the-art laboratory system to visualize solvent-oil-rocks interactions under reservoir conditions. The focus will be on solvent injection into an already-developed heavy oil reservoir with the ultimate goal of enhancing oil recovery and energy conservation. After evaluation of the concept at the laboratory scale, the UofA research team will collaborate with the industrial partners to conduct a pilot test. It is expected that the results of this research will pave the way for optimizing in-situ recovery techniques by lowering the usage of water and energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.