Experimental investigation of in situ upgrading of heavy oil by using a hydrogen donor and catalyst during steam injection



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas A&M University


Experiments were conducted to investigate the feasibility of in situ upgrading of heavy oil by the use of an orgametallic catalyst and a hydrogen donor (tetralin). The experiments used a vertical injection cell into which a mixture of sand, water, and Jobo oil was thoroughly mixed and packed. Two types of runs were conducted: a run where the tetralin and catalyst were mixed within the mixture before packing into the cell, and the other was conducted by injecting a slug of the tetralin-catalyst solution before commencing with the steam injection. The Jobo oil used had an oil gravity of 12.4? API and a viscosity of 7800 cp at 30?C. The injection cell was placed in a vacuum jacket and set to a reservoir temperature of 50?C. Superheated steam at 273?C was then injected into the injection cell at a rate of 5.5 cc/min (cold water equivalent). The cell outlet pressure was maintained at 500 psig. Produced liquid samples were collected periodically through a series of separators. The produced oil was divided into two halves and several measurements and analyses were carried out on them. These included viscosity, density, elemental analysis and liquid composition. Experimental results indicated that tetralin alone was a worthy additive and increased recovery by 15% compared to that of pure steam. The premixed tetralincatalyst run showed improved recovery to that of pure steam by 20%. Experiments also showed that, when the tetralin-catalyst solution was injected rather than mixed, the results were equivalent to tetralin injection runs. Oil production acceleration was displayed by all the runs with tetralin and tetralin-catalyst but was more pronounced with the availability of catalyst.