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Publication numberUS20040050547 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/244,320
Publication dateMar 18, 2004
Filing dateSep 16, 2002
Priority dateSep 16, 2002
Publication number10244320, 244320, US 2004/0050547 A1, US 2004/050547 A1, US 20040050547 A1, US 20040050547A1, US 2004050547 A1, US 2004050547A1, US-A1-20040050547, US-A1-2004050547, US2004/0050547A1, US2004/050547A1, US20040050547 A1, US20040050547A1, US2004050547 A1, US2004050547A1
InventorsKirk Limbach
Original AssigneeLimbach Kirk Walton
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Downhole upgrading of oils
US 20040050547 A1
Abstract
Oils present in oil reservoirs can be upgraded by high temperature cracking through the injection of oxygen into the reservoir and combusting the oils to generate heat. By employing injection wells and production wells, the oxygen may be placed into the reservoir increasing the flux of oxygen present as well as the temperature and cracking severity needed to produce upgraded oil.
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Claims(21)
Having thus described the invention, what I claim is:
1. A method for cracking oil in an oil reservoir comprising injecting oxygen into said oil reservoir and igniting said oil.
2. The method as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a production well.
3. The method as claimed in claim 1 wherein said cracked oil is recovered through said production well.
4. The method as claimed in claim 1 wherein said oil comprises heavy oil and tar sands.
5. The method as claimed in claim 1 wherein said cracking is performed at a temperature greater than 400 C.
6. The method as claimed in claim 1 wherein said cracking is performed at a temperature greater than 500 C.
7. The method as claimed in claim 1 wherein said oxygen is pure oxygen or oxygen-enriched air.
8. The method as claimed in claim 7 wherein said oxygen or oxygen-enriched air is produced by an air separation facility.
9. The method as claimed in claim 1 wherein ignition is provided by an electronic device or by steam heat.
10. The method as claimed in claim 1 further comprising injecting water into said oil reservoir.
11. An in-situ combustion process for recovering oil from an underground oil containing reservoir comprising the steps of:
injecting oxygen into said reservoir through an injection well,
combusting and cracking said oil;
producing cracked oil, and
recovering said cracked oil through a production well.
12. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein said injection well is vertical and said production well is horizontal.
13. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein said injection well and said production well are horizontal.
14. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein said production well and said injection well are perpendicular to each other.
15. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein there are a plurality of injection wells.
16. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein there are a plurality of production wells.
17. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein said combustion takes place at temperatures greater than 400 C.
18. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein said combustion takes place at temperatures greater than 400 C.
19. The process as claimed in claim 11 further comprising recovering carbon dioxide from said production well.
20. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein said injection well is located near the top of said oil bearing reservoir and said production well is located near the bottom of said oil bearing reservoir.
21. The process as claimed in claim 11 wherein a catalyst is present in said production well.
Description
    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to the injection of oxygen or oxygen-enriched air into an oil reservoir causing in-situ combustion to occur and the oil to crack into lighter fractions.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    In conventional in-situ combustion (ISC) processes, also called fire flooding or heavy oil air injection (HOAI), vertical wells are used for injection of air and typically water for the production of oil. The distance between the wells is often substantial and oil and water vaporized by the combustion and upgrading process condense in the cooler parts of the reservoir, travel through the heavy oil and are produced via well techniques. Due to the highly viscous oils through which these lighter fluids must travel, it may be difficult to maintain production and pressure may build on the injection side. This may be one reason for failure of field applications of such technology in the past. A short distance process may be utilized in which a vertical or horizontal injection well and a horizontal producer well are used so that displacement of oil can be achieved along the horizontal producer well. A combustion front propagates through the reservoir above the horizontal well allowing good communication of the upgraded oil and the production well. One example of such a process is the Toe to Heel Air Injection (THAI) process. A catalyst may be placed in the producer well to obtain further upgrading of the oil, as in the CAPRI process.
  • [0003]
    The Combustion Override Split-production Horizontal well (COSH) process also uses air injected into the reservoir to generate steam and heat in-situ. A well arrangement is used to segregate and control fluid flows and thereby reduce early oxygen breakthrough as well as sanding and gas locking of downhole pumps. The well arrangement makes use of an air injection well, gas producer well which removes excess nitrogen and other gases from near the top of the pay zone, and horizontal well to recover oil from a lower portion of the pay zone. The COSH process has an advantage over the THAI and CAPRI processes in that problems which arise from the handling of nitrogen and other gases are reduced.
  • [0004]
    Other examples of short distance displacement processes include Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and Vapor Extraction (VAPEX). In the SAGD process, steam enters through a horizontal injection well and travels a relatively short distance to a horizontal production well. The heating of heavy viscous oils between these wells allows the oils to flow to the production well. The VAPEX process is similar to SAGD but hydrocarbon vapor is used instead of steam. Asphaltene precipitation is caused by the mixing of solvent and oil and provides for an in-situ upgrading of the oil.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0005]
    The present invention provides for a method for cracking oil in an underground oil reservoir comprising injecting oxygen into the oil reservoir and igniting the oil therein. The combustion associated with the high influx of oxygen will generate high temperatures which will cause the oil to crack into lighter fractions to form coke or carbonaceous solids from the heaviest compounds in the oil such as asphaltenes.
  • [0006]
    The present invention also provides for injecting oxygen into the oil reservoir such that in-situ combustion can take place for recovering the oil through one or more production wells.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    The present invention provides for an in-situ combustion process for recovering oil from an underground oil containing reservoir. The process comprises injecting oxygen into the oil reservoir. This oxygen will react to combust the oil which causes heat generation. The resulting high temperatures will cause the oil to crack into lighter fractions. The invention is most applicable for heavy oil or tar sands. By injecting oxygen and igniting the oil in the presence of the oxygen, high temperatures greater than 400 C. and preferably greater than 500 C. cause the oil to crack to form lighter more valuable products, as well as coke or carbonaceous solids. In addition, higher temperatures are desirable to facilitate the formation of CO2. Less desirable oxygen containing hydrocarbons may be formed at lower temperatures.
  • [0008]
    For purposes of the present invention, oxygen can mean pure 100% oxygen gas, but it can also include oxygen-enriched air which contains oxygen in an amount greater than 25%. Purification of the oxygen allows for a significantly higher flux of oxygen to be placed into the well due to the reduction of associated nitrogen which would be present in air. This aids in increasing the temperature which increases the cracking severity but also provides for reducing the need to handle nitrogen in the gases at the production well.
  • [0009]
    In one embodiment of the present invention, a horizontal producer well and vertical injection well is employed. The horizontal producer well will result in a short distance displacement process whereby oil and water vaporized by the intense heat of the oil combustion front can travel freely to the horizontal producer well. This will allow the large flux of oxygen into the reservoir to continue unhampered by upstream blockages. Injectivity of oxygen-containing gas is increased by the combustion of carbonaceous materials near the injection well. In a second embodiment, two sets of horizontal wells may be employed whereby oxygen is injected in one set of horizontal wells and oil is produced from a lower perpendicular set of horizontal wells. The oxygen, when injected into the reservoir, may be ignited by an electronic device or other form of heat, such as steam, which will increase local temperature in the reservoir
  • [0010]
    Water may also be injected with the oxygen once the combustion zone has been established. The steam generated in this manner is an efficient means to transfer heat to the oil. The cracked oils will be of higher quality in that they are relatively light, virtually free of metals and have a lower sulfur content than the untreated oils. The temperatures greater than 400 C. by which the oils are cracked will also improve carbon dioxide production. The carbon dioxide is known to reduce viscosity and interfacial tension in the oil as well as to cause swelling of the oil in order to enhance production. The use of oxygen necessarily means that less nitrogen or no nitrogen is present in the reservoir such that a much higher flux of oxygen is provided and consequently higher temperatures and higher concentrations of carbon dioxide are present.
  • [0011]
    One means of obtaining the oxygen employed in the present invention is from an air separation plant which can be on-site or very close to the actual production wells. In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the well arrangement having a first vertical gas injection well located near the top of the oil bearing portion of the reservoir and a horizontal oil production well located near the bottom of the reservoir. The oxygen would be injected into the first well, combusted and drive the cracked oils into the horizontal oil production well where the oil can be recovered by conventional means. In another preferred embodiment, several horizontal gas injection wells running substantially parallel to each other are located near the top of the oil bearing portion of the reservoir and several oil producing wells also horizontal and substantially parallel to each other are situated perpendicular to the gas injection wells. This provides additional advantages in that the gas injection wells could be used one at a time to upgrade the reservoir oils in the vicinity of that particular gas injection well. The injection and production wells may be formed of any material that is commonly employed in the oil production industry. One example would be a perforated stainless steel tubing of dimensions sufficient to deliver oil from the reservoir.
  • [0012]
    While this invention has been described with respect to particular embodiments thereof, it is apparent that numerous other forms and modifications of the invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art. The appended claims of this invention generally should be construed to cover all such obvious forms and modifications which are within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.
Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7740062Jan 30, 2008Jun 22, 2010Alberta Research Council Inc.System and method for the recovery of hydrocarbons by in-situ combustion
US7770643Oct 10, 2006Aug 10, 2010Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.Hydrocarbon recovery using fluids
US7809538Jan 13, 2006Oct 5, 2010Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.Real time monitoring and control of thermal recovery operations for heavy oil reservoirs
US7832482Oct 10, 2006Nov 16, 2010Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.Producing resources using steam injection
US20060042794 *Aug 30, 2005Mar 2, 2006Pfefferle William CMethod for high temperature steam
US20070187093 *Jan 26, 2007Aug 16, 2007Pfefferle William CMethod for recovery of stranded oil
US20070187094 *Feb 9, 2007Aug 16, 2007Pfefferle William CMethod for CAGD recovery of heavy oil
US20090044940 *Jul 18, 2008Feb 19, 2009Pfefferle William CMethod for CAGD recovery of heavy oil
US20090188667 *Jan 30, 2008Jul 30, 2009Alberta Research Council Inc.System and method for the recovery of hydrocarbons by in-situ combustion
CN101864936A *Mar 23, 2010Oct 20, 2010邓惠荣Authigenic carbon dioxide oil displacement recovery ratio technology in oil layer
WO2008060311A2 *Feb 9, 2007May 22, 2008Pfefferte, William, C.Method for cagd recovery of heavy oil
WO2008060311A3 *Feb 9, 2007Nov 27, 2008Pfefferte William CMethod for cagd recovery of heavy oil
Classifications
U.S. Classification166/260
International ClassificationE21B43/243
Cooperative ClassificationE21B43/243
European ClassificationE21B43/243
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 16, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: BOC GROUP, INC. THE, NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:LIMBACH, KIRK WALTON;REEL/FRAME:013302/0483
Effective date: 20020916