A Computational Mathematician Combusts: Simulation of in-situ Combustion for Heavy Oil Recovery

  • Date: 01/14/2013
Margot Gerritsen (Stanford)

University of British Columbia


Large scale production of very heavy oil is gaining momentum because of
the decline of easy to produce reservoirs, the increasing oil demand and
subsequent rising oil price, which makes such resources more
economical. Considering the pressure on the oil market and our still
very heavy dependence on oil, this move to heavy oil production seems
inevitable. Typically, heavy oil reservoirs are stimulated thermally.
Injecting steam that is generated at the surface is not always viable or
desirable. An alternative technique for production is In-Situ Combution
(ISC) where a steam drive is generated in the reservoir itself. In this
process, (enriched) air is injected in the reservoir. After ignition a
combustion front develops in-situ that burns a small percentage of the
oil in place and slowly moves through the reservoir producing steam
along the way. A side benefit of this process is that the heat thus
generated often cracks the oil into heavy, undesirable components (the
"guck") that stay behind in the reservoir and lighter, more valuable
components that can be brought up to the surface. Performance prediction
of ISC projects is rather tricky and poses many computational
challenges. In this talk I'll discuss our work in ISC simulation, which
is centered around the design of upscaling methods for kinetics and
critical reservoir heterogeneities supported by laboratory


3 PM, LSK 460

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This is part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 initiative.