Investigation of heavy oil displacement by water injection

  • Meshal Algharaib Kuwait University
Keywords: heavy oil, waterflooding, unconventional oil, viscous dominant displacement, gravity dominant displacement


Escalating worldwide demand for energy imposes obligations on oil companies to increase their current levels of oil production.  Therefore, oil producers started to develop unconventional hydrocarbon resources to secure additional energy outputs.  Heavy oil reservoirs are considered one of the more extensively distributed unconventional reservoirs due to their high viscosity. Primary oil production mechanisms are usually ineffective in heavy oil reservoirs as they leave substantial quantities of oil unrecovered.  Waterflooding is an improved oil recovery (IOR) technique which is widely implemented to increase oil recovery from depleted light oil reservoirs. This technique is one of the simplest form of today’s IOR mechanisms. Due to their economic attractiveness, waterflooding techniques are quite often implemented on heavy oil reservoirs regardless of the presence of unfavorable mobility ratios.

In this study, a numerical sensitivity study was conducted to investigate the performance of waterflooding operations in heavy oil reservoirs under different project design considerations.  The study was performed in order to reveal and better understand the functional relationships between several reservoir and project design parameters, which govern the immiscible displacement of heavy oil during waterflooding in homogeneous reservoirs, and ultimately the oil recovery factor.  The project design parameters include injection rate, effective aspect ratio of the well pattern unit, API, and injected water temperature.  These relationships describe and suggest the optimum operational conditions under existing reservoir conditions in which waterflooding of heavy oil reservoirs may yield better recovery performances. These results have potential applications in modeling immiscible displacements and in the scaling of laboratory displacements to field conditions.


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