THAI- new air injection technology for heavy oil recovery and in situ upgrading

Malcolm Greaves, A. Saghr, T. T. X. Xia, A. Turtar, C.. Ayasse

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55 Citations (SciVal)


THAI-"Toe-to-Heel" Air Injection, is a new EOR process, which integrates advanced technology and horizontal well concepts, to achieve a potentially very high recovery of heavy oil. It can also realize very substantial in situ upgrading by thermal cracking, producing upgraded oil to the surface. The process operates in a gravity stabilized manner by restricting drainage to a narrow mobile zone. This causes the flow of mobilized fluids to enter directly into the exposed section of a horizontal production well. The process can be operated on primary production, as new technology, as a follow-up to existing technologies, or as a co-process where the advantages of high thermal efficiency are equired. This is achieved by concentrating the energy required for oil mobilization, recovery and thermal upgrading in the reservoir. Combined with clean technology design, THAI offers pathway, to future economic success for the heavy oil industry. Three-dimensional, semi-scaled experimental tests on light "Forties Mix" oil (30.7 °CDATA[API), Clair, West of Shetlands medium heavy oil (20.8 °CDATA[API), and heavy Wolf Lake oil (10.95 °CDATA[API) show that a well-controlled, narrow mobile oil zone is created just ahead of the combustion front. The width of this narrow zone depends on the characteristics of the heavy oil at reservoir conditions and the degree to which the very high viscosity of the cold oil seals the horizontal producer well. Well sealing can be augmented by a novel sleeve-back technique, which allows perforated downstream sections of the well to be shut-in. The application of this technique enabled the light oil test to mimic the operation of a heavy oil reservoir using THAI. Very high oil recoveries were achieved in the tests, up to 85% OOIP. During wet in situ combustion (ISC), Wolf Lake oil was upgraded to 20 °CDATA[API, achieving a reduction in the cold oil viscosity from 100,000 mPas to around 50 mPas.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001


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