An Experimental study on steam distillation of heavy oils during thermal recovery

Tavakkoli Osgouel, Yashar
Thermal recovery methods are frequently used to enhance the production of heavy crude oils. Steam-based processes are the most economically popular and effective methods for heavy oil recovery for several decades. In general, there are various mechanisms over steam injection to enhance and have additional oil recovery. However, among these mechanisms, steam distillation plays pivotal role in the recovery of crude oil during thermal recovery process. In this study, an experimental investigation was carried out to investigate the role of various minerals present in both sandstone and carbonate formations as well as the effect of steam temperature on steam distillation process. Two different types of dead-heavy crude oils were tested in a batch autoclave reactor with 30 % water and the content of the reactor (crude oil, 10 % rock and mineral). The results were compared as the changes in the density, viscosity and chemical composition (SARA and TPH analyses) of heavy crude oil. Five different mineral types (bentonite, sepiolite, kaolinite, illite and zeolite) were added into the original crude oil and reservoir rocks to observe their effects on the rheological and compositional changes during steam distillation process. Analysis of the results of experiments with Camurlu and Bati Raman heavy crude oils in the presence of different minerals such as Bentonite, Zeolite, Illite, Sepiolite, and Kaolinite in both sandstone and limestone reservoir rocks indicate that steam distillation produces light end condensates which can be considered as solvent or condensate bank during steam flooding operation. It was also illustrated that minerals in reservoir formations perform the function of producing distilled light oil compounds, resulting in enhancement of heavy crude oils recovery in steam flooding. Measurements showed that the remaining oil after steam distillation has higher viscosity and density. On the other hand, the effect of steam distillation is more pronounced in limestone reservoirs compared to sandstone reservoirs for the given heavy crude oil and steam temperature. Among the five different minerals tested, kaolinite found to be the most effective mineral in terms of steam distillation.


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Citation Formats
Y. Tavakkoli Osgouel, “An Experimental study on steam distillation of heavy oils during thermal recovery,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2013.