Chapter 26: Using Multitransient Electromagnetic Surveys to Characterize Oil Sands and Monitor Steam-assisted Gravity Drainage
Folke Engelmark, 2010. "Using Multitransient Electromagnetic Surveys to Characterize Oil Sands and Monitor Steam-assisted Gravity Drainage", Heavy Oils: Reservoir Characterization and Production Monitoring, Satinder Chopra, Laurence R. Lines, Douglas R. Schmitt, Michael L. Batzle
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Heavy oil and bitumen constitute the largest easily accessible remaining hydrocarbon deposits in the world, with the greatest potential resources found in Canada, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union. There are many ways to produce these assets, starting with surface mining of the shallow oil sands to various in situ recovery methods.
Heavy oil can sometimes be produced cold, whereas bitumen requires heating or injection of solvents to be mobilized. Cold production of heavy oil may or may not be successfully monitored by electromagnetic surveys (EM), depending on the recovery technique. Slow drainage by pumping the oil is no different from other oil production in terms of EM and should hence be successful, but for the process known as cold heavy-oil production with sand (CHOPS), it is unclear whether this can be successfully monitored by EM because the recovery rate is only 10% and most of the oil and sand is produced from so-called “wormholes,” which affect only restricted parts of the reservoir.
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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.