Fuel, Vol.105, 119-127, 2013
Evaluation of the hybrid process of electrical resistive heating and solvent injection through numerical simulations
Electrical Resistive Heating (ERH) has been proposed as a thermal recovery method for heavy oil reservoirs with low environmental impact. ERH could potentially be an alternative to steam-related processes in the reservoirs which are not suitable for steam injection methods due to low incipient injectivity and formation incompatibility. Meanwhile, Vapor Extraction (VAPEX) has been tested as an environmentally sustainable oil recovery method in both lab scale and field scale. However, the field test results showed that this process is not efficient and economical due to low mass transfer and low horizontal well efficiency. This paper presents a hybrid process of ERH with VAPEX. The hybrid process could enhance horizontal well efficiency and overall oil production rate, with less environmental impact than other steam-related thermal processes. Numerical simulations were conducted to evaluate this process via CMG-STARS (a Steam, Thermal, and Advanced Processes Reservoir Simulator of Computer Modeling Group). Well pattern similar to that in classical Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) process is used. The electrode is placed along with the producer or injector and solvent is injected from the injector. This process has three features which contribute to the enhanced oil flow: (1) the heat from electrode establishes good communication between the injector and the producer by viscosity reduction; (2) the in situ generated heat through ERH along with the horizontal wellbore is insusceptible to reservoir heterogeneity. Thereby the horizontal well conformity can be improved; (3) the solvent can reduce the viscosity of the heavy oil in unheated zone where the ERH cannot reach; it can also assist viscosity reduction of heavy oil in the heated zone. The factors affecting this hybrid process, such as electrode placement, voltage, well distance and heterogeneity effect, lateral pattern and water saturation, were also discussed in this paper. The simulation results showed that this hybrid process can improve the oil rate 2-5 times over VAPEX. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.