A Computational Mathematician Combusts

Fri, Jan 18, 2013
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 experimentation.

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