Experimental study of a novel in situ gasification technique for improved oil recovery from light oil reservoirs

M Greaves, T X Xia, R R Rathbone, A H Bentaher

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4 Citations (SciVal)


In situ gasification of crude oil using downhole gasification (DHG) is a new, improved oil recovery technique for application in light oil reservoirs. Inert gas is generated inside a DHG unit by gasifying part of the produced oil. A string of DHG units is positioned along a horizontal producer well, or on a vertical well. The gases, mainly hydrogen and CO2, are then directed into a gas cap formation. Incremental oil recovery is achieved via gravity stabilized gas injection or another suitable gas displacement drive method. There is essentially no net heat release into the reservoir if efficient heat recovery is practiced. A series of high pressure, continuous flow expts. was performed in a small-scale gasifier unit, using n-pentane as feedstock, to represent the light naphtha fraction from a crude oil. The expts. were operated at pressures up to 100 bar, compared to the 20 to 30 bar normally used in a surface steam reforming plant. Catalytic steam reforming of the pseudo-light naphtha fraction, contg. reservoir gas, achieved conversions of 70 to 80% at a gasifier exit temp. of 720 Deg C. The produced gas contained up to 50% hydrogen, with the remainder comprising carbon oxides. The new IOR technique has wide potential application in depleted light oil reservoirs where the pressure is less than about 200 bar, although it may be possible to increase this limit. The economics of the DHG process appear to be attractive, if energy is recovered from the hot gas stream. The produced gases are stored-up in the reservoir and any emissions are therefore limited to those which are released from the crude oil when it is produced. If the reservoir pressure is low, then the amt. of gas produced with the oil will be relatively small. The hydrogen product stored-up in the reservoir is a valuable resource, which could be recovered later for use in the future "hydrogen economy.". [on SciFinder (R)]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • petroleum recovery in situ gasification
  • Petroleum recovery (exptl. study of a novel in situ gasification technique for improved oil recovery from light oil reservoirs)


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