Heavy oil, as an important oil supply in China, has been exploited with steam injection for almost forty years. The production of major heavy oil reservoirs now is challenged by low oil steam ratio, low productivity and high energy consumption. The geological character and formation fluid properties of two of China’s heavy oil fields, Liaohe Oil Field and Xinjiang Oil Field, are compared. Two major thermal recovery technologies, steam assisted gravity drainage and in-situ combustion, are found to be complementary and the outcomes are promising. With the assistance of experimental physical simulation and numerical simulation, the major mechanisms of, and differences between, these two techniques are highlighted. Pilot performance is also described.

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