Chapter 1: Heavy-oil Reservoirs: Their Characterization and Production
Satinder Chopra, Larry Lines, Douglas R. Schmitt, Mike Batzle, 2010. "Heavy-oil Reservoirs: Their Characterization and Production", Heavy Oils: Reservoir Characterization and Production Monitoring, Satinder Chopra, Laurence R. Lines, Douglas R. Schmitt, Michael L. Batzle
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Heavy Oil as an Important Resource for the Future
With more than 87 million barrels of oil being consumed worldwide every day, oil has come to be the life-blood of modern civilization. It is cheap, relatively easy to procure and use, and has become addictive in terms of its flexibility in enhancing our lives in multiple applications. First and foremost, we are dependent on oil for transportation because more than 90% of transportation energy comes from oil. In addition, oil provides a feedstock for pharmaceuticals, agriculture, plastics, clothing, mining, electricity, and several other products that we use in our everyday lives. Almost all goods are connected to oil in one way or another; we are all dependent on oil and gas more than any other resource, yet not many of us think about this dependence.
Oil exploration and production has fueled world economic growth over the last century, and it has reached a stage where the economy of several nations is dependent on the exports of oil to the international market. Global demand for oil is now outstripping supply growth and the importance of this crucial commodity is such that companies engaged in oil exploration and production or transportation have dwarfed those in every other commodities sector. Some important aspects to keep in mind are that oil and gas are absolutely critical to the operation of today's industrial society, essential for sustained economic growth in the industrialized world, and key to progress in nations working their way toward prosperity. This translates into a growing demand for oil and gas, much of it coming from developing nations with low levels of energy use per capita.
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Heavy oil is an important global resource with reserves comparable to those of conventional oil. As conventional resources get thinner, attention is being focused on heavy oil and bitumen, which hold the promise of becoming useful fuels. Already more than 1 million barrels of oil are being produced from the oil sands in Canada; heavy oil represents half of California’s crude oil production in the United States and is a major production in Mexico. With demand for global energy soaring, heavy oil will undoubtedly be an important resource to be exploited in a big way in the near future.
The SEG Development and Production Committee held its Heavy Oil Forum in Edmonton, Alberta, in July 2007. This was a joint research forum cosponsored by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) and SEG and hosted by the University of Alberta. Preceding the forum, a field trip took the participants to the vast Athabasca Oil Sands region where they observed the outcrops, open pit mining, and steam injection operations, followed by a tour of the steam-assisted gravity drainage projects. Topics of the well-attended forum included the definition of heavy oil; where is heavy oil found; how it is produced; heavy-oil reservoir characterization; fluid and rock properties; electrical, tilt, and gravity techniques; borehole, surface seismic measurements; and microseismicity.