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Publication numberUS2148717 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 28, 1939
Filing dateJan 21, 1937
Priority dateJan 21, 1937
Publication numberUS 2148717 A, US 2148717A, US-A-2148717, US2148717 A, US2148717A
InventorsWhitney Alvin M
Original AssigneeWhitney Alvin M
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Process of extracting oil from oil sands
US 2148717 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)


Filed Jan. 21, 193'? 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Aiibrneys A. M. WHITNEY PROCESS OF EXTRACTING OIL FROM OIL SANDS Feb. 28, 1939 Filed Jan. 21, 193'? 2 SheetsSheet 2 A iiorneys Patented Feb. 28, 1939 2 v I UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE PROCESS OF EXTRACTING OIL FROM OIL .SANDS Alvin M. Whitney, Bradford, Pa.

Application January 21, 1937, Serial No. 121,669

3 Claims. (Cl. 166-21) 'My invention relates generally to means for merits in efllciency and output, so that the same extracting oil and similar material from shale, is practical from every standpoint. sand, or other bituminous material which is in In accordance with the present invention the its natural condition in the ground, and partlcuprocess consists in drilling an ordinary oil well larly to process and apparatus for more econominto and through the oil bearing sand 2, as shown ically and efiiciently extracting oil and the like in Figure l of the drawings, the numeral 3 desfrom the ground by means of recovery wells, and ignating the taprock or layer of slate which seals an important object of my invention is to prothe oil and gas in the sand, and is always presvide practical and economical means whereby ent. The numeral 4 generally designates the substantially the whole oil content of a given casing of the oil well, and the numerals 5 and 6 area of ground may be extracted and the process pipes inserted in the well, 5 and 6 being covered carried on without substantially affecting adjawith insulating material 5' to conserve heat, and cent areas. these pipes are circumferentially spaced as shown Other important objects of my invention will in the drawings. The inner and smallest pipe be apparent from a reading of the following de- 6 passes through a stuifing box and tap screw scription taken in connection with the drawings, 1 at the top of the well and connects with the wherein for purposes of illustration I have shown outlet of a superheater which is generally desiga preferred embodiment of the apparatus of my nated 8, at the point 9 which is constituted by invention. an adjustable diaphragm pop-valve. The pipe In the drawings:--- 6 leads from the helical coil to the bottom of 20 Figure 1 is a sectional elevational view of cirthe well which is constituted by the shot-hole culatory apparatus for performing the process of IO in the oil bearing strata 2. The pipe 5 dethe present invention. pends only to the top of the shot-hole Ill and is Figure 2 is an enlarged transverse vertical sealed oif by a packer H at the top of the oil sectional view taken through the lower part of bearing strata 2. 25

the recovery tank showing the vertically adjust- Adjacent its top the pipe 5 has opposed openable syphon connection. ings I2 and l3. l3 opens into the intake end Figure 3 is a horizontal sectional view taken of the superheater I4, after passing through a through Figure 2. water cooling box or jacket 44. At the point I5 Figure 4 shows an arrangement for extracting the pipe section I4 is connected with the lower 30 oil from a given area of ground, wherein proconvolution of the superheater coil and with the tected pipes are arranged at the corners of the intake pipe I6 which carries steam from the boil- ,area and are formed with inwardly facing opener or generator which is generally designated Il. ings directed toward a centrally located recovery At the point IS the superheater coil and the well, and showing expanding means for engagpipe section M are connected by a union or by- 35 ing the pipe and the opposed side of the hole to pass so that the contents of the pipes in the press the pipe against the side of hole to prevent superheater may be drawn from either the pipe escape of heat in a radially outward direction. is 0 r t e P pe a e y Opening Figure 5 is a transverse vertical sectional view closing the valves I9, 20 and 60. 40 taken through one of the open sided pipes and The cooling box or jacket 44 has a cold water 40 showing the expanding means in position. intake 2| and an outlet 22 for heated water.

Figure 6 is an elevational detail of the ex- The outlet l2 from the pipe 5 is controlled by pending means. a hand valve 23 on the condensing coil 23 in It has been the practice prior to the present the condensing box 24, which condensing box is 45 invention to recover oil from selected areas'by provided in its upper end with a cold water in- 45 either pumping the oil from wells drilled into take 25 and in its lower end with a heated water the oil strata, or to mine it by various processes, outlet 26. At the point designated 21, the conineluding processes which have been devised denser coil pipe passes outwardly and then upwith a view to extracting the oil from the shale wardly and then curvedly over as indicated by or sand by application of heat to the shale or the numeral 29 into the tank 28, whence the con- 50 sand itself. Of the last mentioned processes, denser pipe passes downwardly in the tank 28 none has proven satisfactory-from a practical to a point of discharge 3!) which is just above standpoint, the cost of operation being too great the rounded bottom 35 of the tank 28. for general use. But the present process and ap- On the side of the lower part of the tank 28,

paratus operates with suificiently great improveas shown in Figures 2 and 3 of the drawings, is 55 a sliding aperture 3| which has connected thereto the syphon pipe 32, the connection being made by a flexible joint 32 beyond a hand valve 3|.

The sliding aperture 3| consists of a suitable plate 38 conforming in curvature to a side of the tank 28 and having a conforming gasket 39 on its inner side, the side of the tank 28 being provided with a plurality of openings 48 which are vertically spaced, or with a continuous slot, as may be desired. When the aperture 3! is adjusted vertically by sliding the plate 38 between the guides 4l which are formed on the side of the tank 28, the level at which the condensed steam may be drawn off by syphoning is determined. The efiect is to have control of the water level in the lower part of the tank, the water level being designated 34 for illustrative purposes. The syphonic pipe 32 discharges water, but the oil above the water and in the tank 28 is discharged at the valved opening 35 by opening the stop cock 36.

The apparatus above described is operated as fol1ows:-

The first step is to close the valves 20 and 60 and open the valve 23, and the valve 9 and to close the valve l9. Then steam is gotten up in the generator l1 to the desired pressure, and when this desired pressure is obtained, the valve I9 is opened and admits wet steam to the superheater 8 where the steam is raised to the required temperature, say, about 700 F.

This superheated steam passes out through the valve 9 and down into the shot-hole II) by way of the small pipe 6 and is discharged in the shothole at the "point I0. Steam under pressure is generated by the confined steam and the resultant liberated vapors in the shot-hole, as a result of the discharge of the superheated steam in the shothole, and the combination of superheated steam and liberated vapors pass up through the pipe and out of this pipe at the opening l2 and into the condensing coil in the condenser 24. The flow of these vapors through the valve 23 is controlled by the back pressure at the point 38 in the tank 28 after the vapors are condensed. The vapors mentioned pass through the condensing coil in the condenser 24 and on into the tank 28 where the condensed steam or water settles to the bottom of the tank 28 and the lighter materials or oil, rise to the top and may be drawn off at the outlets 32 and 35, respectively.

Thus a purpose of the invention in providing a medium for conducting heat to the bottom of the shot-hole to raise the temperature of the sand to any desired temperature, is facilitated. When the proper temperatures are reached, the elements in the oil strata are vaporized and this creates great pressure. sure follow the line of least resistance which is back into the shot-hole, By constantly supplying a heating medium to the shot-hole, the heat is radiated outwardly into the; sand for a considerable distance and the heat vaporizes and releases a greater percentage of the oil than could be effected by any other presently known method.

The life of the well, therefore, depends upon the area of radiation at the point operated upon within the limit of efficiency.

The presently used processes for applying pressure to oil sand with water under high pressure are in the present invention supplanted by using heated vapors under pressure in the corner wells M, N, O, P of a selected area. As is well known, the radiation or pressure will force the oil in the area toward the central recovery well L.

These vapors under pres- The present invention contemplates making each of the wells M, N, O and P a pressure well and making L only arecovery well, and the result is that all of the available oil will be taken from the area through the recovery well L. In order to make pressure wells of the wells M, N, O and P, it is desirable and necessary to proceed as follows with the equipment to be described.

The four wells are drilled at four equi-distant points from the central well L. These wells can be shot if desired, but heat can be better directed toward the centralized well by drilling the well without shooting it. The equivalent of the pipe 5 is run clear to the bottom of the hole, with this pipe 5 in the form of a three-quarter circle, with the opening facing toward the centralized well L, and with the outside of the pipe 5 insulated over its entire surface, as shown in Figure 4 of the drawings, the inwardly facing opening being designated by the numeral 5 in the case of each of the wells M, N, O and P.

In order to prevent the heat from escaping through the back of the pipes 5, I provide a wedgelever arrangement generally designated 45 which is arranged at the center of the hole or bore and is attached to the pipe, so that when the pipe 5 is forced into the bottom of the well, the back of the pipe will be forced against the wall of sand, so as to firmly engage the insulated back of the pipe against the opposite wall of the hole and thereby prevent the backward escape of heat from the well.

Reference to Figures 4, 5 and 6 will disclose the form and arrangement of the wedge-levers each of which consists of a depending shank 46having a heavy weight 41 at its lower end and provided at its upper end with two divergent brackets 48 and 49 which have pivoted thereto as indicated by the numerals 58 and 5|, respectively, the arms 52, 53 which have the curved shoes 54 and 55 at their outward ends for engagement with the wall of the hole and with the back of the pipe, respectively.

The radially inward ends of the arms 52, 53 are rounded at the points designated 56 and squared at the points designated 51 shown in Figure 6, so that as the device goes down in the well the arms are permitted to move upwardly toward each other in a free manner. The squared portions 51 are provided to lock the arms in their expanded condition so as to firmly hold the shoes 54 and 55 in engagement with the pipe and with the wall of the well as indicated in Figures 4 and 5 of the drawings. A support 58 extends across the pipe 5 and has a rectangular frame 59 on which the arms 52 and 53 rest and through which they work, the frame acting to prevent the device from falling through the well before the same has been brought to expanded condition by engagement of the weight 41 with the bottom of the hole. As the pipe 5 is forced into thebottom of the well, the plunger or shank 46 is pushed upwardly and thereby pushes the arms 52 and 53 against the pipe and the sand wall respectively, so as to firmly nest the insulated part of the pipe 5 against the outer side of the well wall.

After the wells M, N, O and P are arranged as indicated above, the steam is turned on at the point 19 after first having closed the valves 20 and GI]. After the well is filled with steam and vapor at the required temperature and pressure, the valve I9 is closed and the valves 28 and 60 are opened. The vapors then under pressure come up through the pipe 5, the valve 23 being in a closed condition and pass up through the jvapors. By reheating the vapors in the superheater as they proceed through the coils of the superheater, a continuous pressure at the point 9 is produced so as to cause an automatic circulation of the vapors at high temperature into the shot-hole. By properly adjusting the valves 9 and and 60 any desired pressure can be generated in the bottom of the well and the heat forced toward a common central point at the centralized well L.

The centralized well L is equipped as a recovery well. The oil from the area will then be available at a very low cost as compared with the present processes and apparatus which in-.

volve expensive water pressure plants and expensive pumping equipment.

- Although I have shown and described herein a preferred embodiment of the process and of the apparatus-of my invention, it is to be definitely understood that I do not desire to limit the application of the invention thereto, and any change or changes may be made in the structure and arrangement of the parts, and in the manner and sequence of operating the various steps of the process,vwithin the spirit of the invention and the scope of the subjoined claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A process of recovering oil from an area having an oil stratum, said process comprising sinking a first well in an area and a second well adjacent the first well, then forcing superheated steam into the first well so as to vaporize the oil stratum, shielding the outer sides of said first well in a manner to produce heat radiation only toward the second well, then establishing and operating said second well as a recovery well.

2. A process of recovering oil from an area having an oil stratum, said process comprising sinking a first well and a second well in said area,

then establishing a continuous circulation of superheated steam and heat generated vapors into said oil stratum through said first well while positively preventing heat radiation from said second well in a direction away from said first well by first passing superheated steam under pressure into said oil stratum through said second well and then permitting the resultant combination of superheated steam and oil vapors to rise through the first well behind the original superheated steam, then establishing and operating said first well as a low pressure recovery well and substantially completely draining the area of oil,

3. A process of recovering oil from an area having an oil stratum, said process comprising sinking a plurality of wells over the area and one adjacent the center of the area, then forcing hot vapors under pressure into wells at designated points so as to vaporize the oil in the stratum, shielding the outer sides of said wells at designated points in a manner to project heat radiation and pressure toward the central well while preventing the escape of heat from said wells in other directions, then establishing and operating said central well as a recovery well.


Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2767791 *Oct 7, 1954Oct 23, 1956Shell DevMethod of preventing retrograde condensation in gas fields
US2881838 *Oct 26, 1953Apr 14, 1959Pan American Petroleum CorpHeavy oil recovery
US3003555 *Sep 18, 1956Oct 10, 1961Jersey Prod Res CoOil production from unconsolidated formations
US3186484 *Mar 16, 1962Jun 1, 1965Beehler Vernon DHot water flood system for oil wells
US3241611 *Apr 10, 1963Mar 22, 1966Equity Oil CompanyRecovery of petroleum products from oil shale
US3360046 *Feb 8, 1965Dec 26, 1967Halliburton CoCementing compositions for maximum thermal insulation
US3380530 *Apr 1, 1966Apr 30, 1968Malcolm F. McconnellSteam stimulation of oil-bearing formations
US3572436 *Jan 17, 1969Mar 30, 1971Riehl Frederick WMethod for recovering petroleum
US3759329 *May 28, 1971Sep 18, 1973Shuffman OCryo-thermal process for fracturing rock formations
US4265310 *Oct 3, 1978May 5, 1981Continental Oil CompanyFracture preheat oil recovery process
US4396064 *May 14, 1981Aug 2, 1983Atlantic Richfield CompanyMethod and apparatus for injecting a gaseous stream into a subterranean zone
US4399867 *May 14, 1981Aug 23, 1983Atlantic Richfield CompanyMethod for injecting a gaseous stream into a hot subterranean zone
US4408665 *Oct 2, 1978Oct 11, 1983Equity Oil CompanyIn situ recovery of oil and gas from water-flooded oil shale formations
US4509595 *Jan 22, 1982Apr 9, 1985Canadian Liquid Air Ltd/Air LiquideIn situ combustion for oil recovery
US4595057 *May 18, 1984Jun 17, 1986Chevron Research CompanyParallel string method for multiple string, thermal fluid injection
US4667739 *Mar 10, 1986May 26, 1987Shell Oil CompanyThermal drainage process for recovering hot water-swollen oil from a thick tar sand
US9388667 *Jun 21, 2013Jul 12, 2016Chevron U.S.A. Inc.Heating production fluids in a wellbore
US20140374101 *Jun 21, 2013Dec 25, 2014Yamila OrregoHeating Production Fluids in a Wellbore
U.S. Classification166/272.3, 166/245, 166/57, 166/267
International ClassificationE21B43/24, E21B43/16
Cooperative ClassificationE21B43/24
European ClassificationE21B43/24