Chapter 4: Correlating the Chemical and Physical Properties of a Set of Heavy Oils from around the World
Amy Hinkle, Eun-Jae Shin, Matthew W. Liberatore, Andrew M. Herring, Mike Batzle, 2010. "Correlating the Chemical and Physical Properties of a Set of Heavy Oils from around the World", Heavy Oils: Reservoir Characterization and Production Monitoring, Satinder Chopra, Laurence R. Lines, Douglas R. Schmitt, Michael L. Batzle
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Heavy oil has recently become an important resource as conventional oil reservoirs have limited production and oil prices rise. More than 6 trillion barrels of oil in place have been attributed to the world's heaviest hydrocarbons (Curtis et al., 2002). Therefore, heavy-oil reserves account for more than 3 times the amount of combined world reserves of conventional oil and gas. Of particular interest are the large heavy-oil deposits of Canada and Venezuela, which together may account for approximately 55%–65% of the known less than 20° American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity oil deposits in the world (Curtis et al., 2002).
Heavy oils cover a large range of API gravities, from 22° for the lightest heavy oils to less than 10° for extra-heavy oils. This wide range of values means that heavy oils vary greatly in their physical properties. Thus, extensive research is required before the properties of heavy oil can be properly understood. Several prevailing issues are seen repeatedly in various fields around the world, including how to make measurements on unconsolidated sandstone cores, production of sand with oil and its effect on formation, exsolution gas drive of heavy oil, understanding the control of viscosity and other physical properties of heavy oils, and monitoring of steam recovery processes. Simply, the high viscosity of heavy oils limits its extraction by traditional methods
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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.