Experimental investigation of caustic steam injection for heavy oils



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



An experimental study has been conducted to compare the effect of steam injection and caustic steam injection in improving the recovery of San Ardo and Duri heavy oils. A 67 cm long x 7.4 cm O.D (outer diameter), steel injection cell is used in the study. Six thermocouples are placed at specific distances in the injection cell to record temperature profiles and thus the steam front velocity. The injection cell is filled with a mixture of oil, water and sand. Steam is injected at superheated conditions of 238oC with the cell outlet pressure set at 200 psig, the cell pressure similar to that found in San Ardo field. The pressure in the separators is kept at 50 psig. The separator liquid is sampled at regular intervals. The liquid is centrifuged to determine the oil and water volumes, and oil viscosity, density and recovery. Acid number measurements are made by the titration method using a pH meter and measuring the EMF values. The interfacial tensions of the oil for different concentrations of NaOH are also measured using a tensionometer. Experimental results show that for Duri oil, the addition of caustic results in an increase in recovery of oil from 52% (steam injection) to 59 % (caustic steam injection). However, caustic has little effect on San Ardo oil where oil recovery is 75% (steam injection) and 76 % (caustic steam injection). Oil production acceleration is seen with steam-caustic injection. With steam caustic injection there is also a decrease in the produced oil viscosity and density for both oils. Sodium hydroxide concentration of 1 wt % is observed to give the lowest oil-caustic interfacial tension. The acid numbers for San Ardo and Duri oil are measured as 6.2 and 3.57 respectively.