Heavy oil recovery efficiency using SAGD, SAGD with propane co-injection and STRIP-SAGD

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Primary oil recovery methods in heavy oil basins generally extract 5-10% of the available resource, with the vast majority left in the ground and recoverable only through Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) methods. Traditional EOR methods, such as SAGD and solvent-assisted SAGD, generate steam in surface facilities and inject it underground to mobilize the oil for production. However, these methods can have considerable energy losses that significantly impact process performance. In contrast, the Solvent Thermal Resource Innovation Process (STRIP) technology, which uses down hole combustion of methane to produce CO2 and steam, reduces the operating and capital costs of surface facilities, saving more than 50% of the energy typically required for thermal production. In this work, simulations of conventional SAGD, SAGD with a non-condensing solvent (propane), and STRIP-SAGD for a typical bitumen reservoir in the Fort McMurray region in Alberta, Canada were performed using the combined software system ADGPRS/GFLASH. SAGD simulations used steam injection with a quality of 0.8 while STRIP simulations injected a vapor-liquid mixture with a quality of 0.8. Furthermore, both solvent-based EOR methods required longer operation periods than conventional SAGD to recover a similar amount of oil. However, when compared on the basis of cumulative oil produced for the same overall energy input, it is shown that STRIP-SAGD recovered more oil per kJ of energy input to the reservoir than either SAGD or SAGD with propane co-injection.

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Computers and Chemical Engineering