Experimental comparison of hot water/propane injection to steam/propane injection for recovery of heavy oil



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Texas A&M University


Generating enough heat to convert water into steam is a major expense for projects that inject steam into reservoirs to enhance hydrocarbon recovery. If the temperature of the injected fluid is lowered this expense would be reduced. In the past, attempts have been made to inject hot water instead of steam. The results have all been rather poor, the major problem being low sweep efficiency. The hot water just doesn?t enhance oil recovery enough. Adding propane to the steam injected in the reservoir lowers the boiling point of the light to intermediate hydrocarbon fractions, upgrading the oil and reducing viscosity. The goal of this investigation is to see if the same effects could be achieved when adding propane to hot water ? making it a lower cost option for an injection operation. Results conclude that you need steam to achieve satisfactory recovery. These results reflect differences in heat injected by steam compared to that of hot water. Steam has a more penetrating effect, shooting into the reservoir where the hot water moves more slowly forward. The propane just doesn?t seem to have the same accelerating effect when used with water as it does when used with steam.