Engineering Aspects of Solvent-Additive Steam Recovery

Authors: N. Edmunds, D. Riva, and J. Peterson - Laricina Energy Ltd.

Source: This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2010 Heavy Oil Development International Seminar in Panjin City, China, September 15-17, 2010

The province of Alberta in Canada contains world-class hydrocarbon accumulations in the form of bitumen in oil sands and carbonate formations. The cold climate and relatively shallow depth of burial (between 0 and 400 metres) combine to give reservoir temperatures generally below 15°C, which renders bitumen essentially immobile at initial conditions.

In the past decade, steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) has been proven technically and economically successful at recovering bitumen from a considerable fraction of this resource. As always, however, better methods are sought, with a view to improving both economic and environmental performance. The use of solvents, rather than heat, to render bitumen mobile, has always been considered a leading possibility in this regard.

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