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A thermal steam stimulation process, such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), induces water-in-oil emulsion of heavy oil or bitumen throughout the production. The present study investigated the effects of in-situ emulsification in the oil sands reservoir for SAGD process. The viscosities of water-in-oil emulsions produced were measured with respect to water-oil ratio (W/O), shear rates, pressures and temperatures. The results therefore were employed to develop the numerical model of viscosity alteration. Numerical simulations of the SAGD bitumen production considering viscosity alteration were also carried out to investigate distribution characteristics of emulsion, water, and bitumen at steam chamber boundary and effects of in-situ emulsification on bitumen production behavior. With a model named SAGD-Emulsion Model, it was found that the net recovery factor of bitumen for this model is 5 to 10% higher than that of conventional SAGD simulation. Ultimately, it was found that the recovery factor of bitumen increased with W/O of emulsion generated in the reservoir since higher water content would invariably allow bitumen to flow at higher relative permeability, while the increase in viscosity merely delayed bitumen production.


Viscosity alteration, bitumen, emulsion, in-situ emulsification, SAGD. 

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