Emulsion Injection for Enhancing the Fast-and-Uniform SAGD Start-up Process
Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage is the most commonly used in-situ thermal method for recovering bitumen from oil sands formations in western Canada. In this process, two parallel horizontal wells, about 5 m apart vertically, are drilled near the bottom of the formation. Before production, the bitumen between the two wells has to be heated, to become mobile, by circulating steam through the wells for several months. A new technology has been developed to make the inter-well bitumen flow in only a week, in which water is forced into the sands to dilate the pores, followed by steam injection. However, the oil sands formation is not uniform, which can leave some regions untouched. The project will develop a method called emulsion injection to create uniform dilation of the oil sands. Experiments and computer modelling will be conducted to design emulsions for the process. A field trial will be conducted to test the method.