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Improving Energy Efficiency in Thermal Oil Recovery Surface Facilities

N.M. NADELLA SNC Lavalin Inc. Summary
Thermal oil recovery methods such as Cyclic Steam Stimulation (CSS), Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and In-situ Combustion are being used for recovering heavy oil and bitumen. These processes expend energy to recover oil. The process design of the surface facilities requires optimization to improve the efficiency of oil recovery by minimizing the energy consumption per barrel of oil produced. Optimization involves minimizing external energy use by heat integration. This paper discusses the unit processes and design methodology considering thermodynamic energy requirements and heat integration methods to improve energy efficiency in the surface facilities. A design case study is presented. Introduction As primary oil production declines, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods will be increasingly deployed. For the recovery of heavy oil and bitumen, thermal recovery methods have become standard methods of recovery. For bitumen resources in Alberta, Canada, thermal recovery and mining are the main recovery methods. Thermal oil recovery methods involve use of heat to improve the oil recovery from petroleum reservoirs. These methods are, • Hot water flood • Steam methods like CSS, SAGD, steam flood • In-situ Combustion There are several variations of the above methods1 like co-injection of solvents, gases and air as shown in Figure 1. As shown in Figure 2, 98.1% of the thermal EOR production is currently based on Steam, while 1.7% is based on in-situ combustion and 0.2% based on hot water flooding2. Surface facilities for the steam based thermal production requires steam generation plants, water treatment for boiler feed water generation, produced water recycle and wastewater treatment units in addition to well pads, gathering systems, pipelines, oil treatment, gas treatment units and other utilities and offsite units. Surface facilities for in-situ combustion methods require air compression units, steam generation on a smaller scale, produced gas treatment, oil treatment, water treatment and other utilities and offsite units. This paper discusses surface facilities for steam based oil recovery and in-situ combustion processes. The surface facilities may also include cogeneration units for electric power, sour gas treatment, sulfur recovery, carbon capture and sequestration units as part of the overall project. Therefore, the process design of surface facilities involves process integration and energy optimization to minimize overall costs of steam and/or power generation, maximize heat recovery recognizing trade-offs between capital and operating costs, and minimizing the overall waste heat loss and utility cooling or heating. Description of Surface Facilities The process units in the surface facilities for steam based thermal oil recovery and in-situ combustion are described below and compared


Main process units in such surface facilities are shown in Figure 3. energy consumed in the form of fuel for steam generation. produced water de-oiling. well-head operating conditions. These options are listed in Table 1 column 3. Steam Based Thermal Facilities Steam based thermal processes like CSS. In such cases. steam and power co-generation. sulfur recovery. The produced fluids are sent directly to the Central Plant if the well pads are located close by. Steam generation consumes major amount of energy in the steam based processes while air compression requires the most energy for in-situ combustion processes at the surface facilities. If the well pads are located far from the Central Plant. campsites and other infrastructure facilities will be required depending on the project location. If the well pads are located far from the Central Plant. The surface facilities for in-situ combustion also consist of the following main process units. air compression. gas separation. Currently. product storage and pumping. The process selection will be done during the conceptual phase of the project. requirements and availability of diluent. The produced fluids are sent directly to the Central Plant if the well pads are located close by. electricity for moving . utilities and off-sites. There are several process options for each unit of the surface facilities. SAGD or steam flood have very similar surface facilities. steam generation. This design will be refined through detailed engineering phases. The process units are oil processing. comparison of the capital and operating costs for different processes will enable selection of the economic design for the surface facilities. There are several process options for each unit of the surface facilities. In-situ Combustion Surface Facilities The main surface process units for In-situ combustion are shown in Figure 4. column 2. There will be more than one process option that may be suitable for the given design conditions. free 2 water knockout. wastewater treatment. air and steam distribution and control. intermediate pumping stations may be required. The Central Plant consists of oil processing. Currently the design capacity of the in-situ combustion projects is less than 10. Central Plant may be combined with well pad if there is only one well pad in the facility. Central Plant may be combined with well pad if there is only one well pad in the facility. The surface facilities consist of the following main process units. Energy Consumption Energy is consumed in the thermal oil recovery surface facilities to generate steam or compress air to support the oil recovery from the reservoir. In this paper. In addition. well testing and gathering systems. • Well Pad facilities • Pump Stations • Central Plant and • Pipelines Well pad facilities include well controls. steam distribution and control. the CSS and SAGD surface facilities are being designed for capacities of 5. Surface Facility Process Selection The process option for each of the surface units is selected based on the overall economics for the project and are linked to factors like production capacity.000 barrels/day of oil production. produced water de-oiling. These options are listed in Table 1.000 barrels/day. sour gas treatment. product storage and pumping. intermediate pumping stations may be required. water treatment. Alternatively. Alternatively. production control.000 barrels/day to 100.in Table 1. water treatment. sales oil quality etc. sour gas handling. • Well Pad facilities • Pump Stations • Central Plant and • Pipelines Well pad facilities include well controls. de-sanding and emulsion pumping. utilities and off-sites. production control.

The selection of the enhanced oil recovery process and screening parameters for a given oil reservoir are described Green3 et al. the commonly used parameters reflecting energy consumption are the steam to oil ratio (SOR) and oil to steam ratio (OSR). In the in-situ combustion.0 0.16 – 2. The amount of steam used per barrel of oil production determines the overall energy efficiency. Due to seasonal variations of 3 The impact of SOR on energy consumed per barrel of oil produced and the amount of heat in the produced fluids6 is given in Figure 5.5 . A cumulative air to oil ratio determines the overall project economics. • Minimize transportation of hot fluids for treatment to avoid insulation losses • Evaluate if direct contact heat exchange is possible as this will be more efficient than indirect heat exchange.3 ton steam/m3 oil Surface facilities are designed to provide the required steam or air for the thermal oil recovery processes. Some of the general strategies to optimize the energy consumption are.3 EOR Method Hot water flood Steam Drive Dry Combustion Wet Combustion Steam soak CSS SAGD Typical Design Parameter 9 m3 water/m3oil 1. the goal is to minimize energy losses and minimize the fuel gas or other utilities required in the surface facilities. the amount of steam injected varies during the life of the project. Venezuela SAGD.3 ~ 0. The fuel gas consumed in the thermal EOR surface facilities is mainly to generate steam.0 – 3.3 – 0.0 – 2.5 ~ 3. The steam to oil ratios for various reservoir locations6 are given as. . Steam can be injected continuously as in steam flood. Also. • Avoid excess generation of low level heat.0 2. Subsurface heat generation and energy consumption for in-situ combustion in the reservoir is not in the scope of this paper.5 SOR ~ 4.1.0 – 3. This quantity is also dependent on reservoir characteristics.fluids and treatment processes will be considered for review and optimization. Location Steam Floods. cumulative steam to oil ratio (CSOR) over the period of steam injection is more reflective of the energy consumption of the recovery process.3 ton steam/m3 oil 2.0 ton steam/m3 0. In steam based processes. Any heat exchange will have efficiency limitation due to entropy changes. Select processes with lower thermodynamic minimum energy requirements.29 ton steam/m3oil 3000 sm3air/m3oil 170 – 1000 sm3 air/sm3oil 0. Energy Optimization Energy optimization is an important part of surface facilities process design. Typical design parameters for each of the thermal oil recovery processes have been summarized from literature5 as. maximize fuel efficiency through heat recovery steam generation. Alberta CSS. • Select the surface process unit operating conditions that match with the reservoir operating conditions. the amount of air injected per barrel of oil produced determines the overall energy efficiency.3 – 0.33 2. or SAGD or intermittently as in CSS process. This parameter is dependent on reservoir characteristics. • If cogeneration is required. California CSS. Actual energy consumption has to be higher than the thermodynamic minimum.3 – 3.25 0. California CSS. Thus heat exchange will be minimized. development strategy and is always optimized based on impact on oil production.0 – 3.0 0. Given the design air or steam flow rates.66 – 6.0 1. Hence. • Evaluate and quantify the thermodynamic limitations of the treatment processes. Alberta OSR ~ 0.

The free energy can be expressed in terms of molal concentration of the salt in water as. The selection of these processes depends on their suitability for treating the produced fluids i..... • If low level heat generation could not be avoided...... Low High High High High Low low High Low High High High High high − Wmin = ∫ ∆Fdn = ∫ RT ln a w dn = ∫ RT ln n1 n2 p dn.. heaters and pumps with higher efficiencies. . p. the subscripts c.. Some energy transfer processes specific to thermal oil recovery processes and their impacts are listed below. Energy transfer process Heat recovery from produced liquids Heat recovery from produced gas Heat recovery from boiler blow down Waste heat available for winterization Flue gas heat recovery Steam generation Air compression Cogeneration of power Impact on Steam based Oil Recovery High Impact on insitu Combustion Low When there is more than one suitable process for a separation unit...e.. low level heat from the process cooling will have to be removed expending energy in air or water cooling. and ∆F is the change of the free energy. ... energy consumption will be important for process selection as this impacts the operating costs for the unit.......... respectively. .. This can be expressed as..... The minimum work or energy can also be expressed in terms of chemical potentials as...( 3) Energy and Separation Processes Energy is required for different separation processes used in surface facilities.. The minimum thermodynamic work required for separating a homogeneous mixture in to pure products at constant temperature is given by7......( 2 ) p0 Where n represents the number of water moles in the solution. R is the gas constant... Expressing chemical potential to activity coefficients will result in an equation of the form. • Select equipment like boilers... ∆H represents the change in enthalpy between final and initial stages. product and feed. Minimum Energy Thermodynamics provides minimum energy requirements and maximum thermodynamic efficiency for a separation process. P is the water vapor pressure assumed as an ideal gas.8 the increase of Gibb’s free energy of the products over the feed. • Maximize heat integration between hot and cold process streams to minimize external heating or cooling.. − Wmin = ∆H − T∆S = ∆F . meeting sales oil specification.. .( 4) i =1 n The activity coefficients for salt mixtures have been published as relations of osmotic constants8 and molality or as empirical relations with temperatures for seawater desalination..... ........ steam turbines. and f are concentrate. . and water recycled as boiler feed water and waste water to disposal wells. consider waste heat energy recovery units. 4 Where. aw is the water activity in the solution. ∆S represents the change in entropy.. − Wmin = ∆F = µc + µ p − µ f .ambient temperatures.....(1) Where.. − Wmin = RT ∑ x Fi ln γ Fi x Fi .

makeup water and remaining heat is recovered to ethylene glycol.057 – 4. The design parameters for this case are. The design parameters and assumptions for the case study and optimization results are as follows.0 Bitumen is produced using gas lift Well head production temperature is 179°C Warm lime softening and once through steam generators are used Boiler blow down will be recycled and make-up water rate is limited to 10% of boiler feed water rate. Low level heat generation and heat rejection to utilities will be minimized Ambient temperatures vary between 45°C to 35°C. • Thermal efficiency of the surface facilities is governed by the efficiency of steam generators.This minimum work estimation allows one to evaluate various separation processes and also signifies the difficulty of separation. 5 The optimized flow sheet with main process parameters are shown in figure 7.000 BBL/day SAGD Facility The steps in energy optimization of the surface facilities are given in Figure 6. • The heat from produced fluids is recovered to boiler feed water. Practical Energy Consumption In practice. Pinch analysis results are shown in figures 8-10.963 1. • The only external heat required is for steam generation. Electrostatic oil-water separation (> 99) Gas Floatation (>90) Media Filtration (>99) Warm Lime Softening (>90) Ion Exchange for hardness removal (>99) Mechanical vapor compression9 for evaporation (97) Reverse Osmosis10 (35-55) Multistage flash10 (10-20) Multiple-effect distillation10 (>60) Case Study In order to illustrate energy optimization methods described above.3 GJ/BBL of bitumen produced. • The fuel gas energy input is estimated at about 0. • Hot ethylene glycol is used for building heating.057 26 – 40 ~ 431 ~ 18. kWh/1000Sm3 53 – 819 21 – 26 264 – 1. while the efficiency of the SAGD process is governed by the steam to oil ratio used. Separation Recovery) Process (% Energy Consumption.494 1.9 to 1. a case study for the design of a 30. .642 • • • • • • • • Steam to oil ratio is 3. Heat losses through insulation will be neglected. • Fluid flow frictional pressure drops • Heat transfer due to fluids at different temperatures • Non ideal mixing of fluids and mass transfer • Non ideal chemical reactions taking place in the process Practical energy consumptions for the separation processes used in thermal oil recovery surface facilities are given below. 30.227 3.000 barrels/day SAGD facility in Alberta is presented. Any remaining heat will be dissipated through air coolers. the actual energy consumption will be much higher due to. heat tracing and process heat requirements. The results indicate.849 – 2. Some waste heat will be rejected during summer when utility heat requirements are reduced. Residual heat is then used to preheat combustion air to the steam generators.

2008. pp 296-297. Leena Kottungal. April 19.. 22. Paper 2008-317. 3. pp 8193-8201. Paul Willhite. 7. Canada. Edmonton. Separation Process Technology. Humphrey.pp 4153 . Jimmy L. S. 4. pp 95-106. p 302. f = i = min = max = n = p = w = concentrate feed component minimum maximum number of components in feed product water REFERENCES 1. March 2008. °K or °C work. Scott Freeman. Texas. McGraw-Hill. 108. Rick Bond. 63(2008). Keller II. Table 8. 6 . Alberta. 42. Heat Integration and Energy Optimization in SAGD Surface Facilities. New York. process integration and selection of suitable processes for surface facilities is required. Separation processes can be screened based on energy consumption in addition to meeting the process requirements. 99. June 2007. N. Thomas. pp 9-19. Richardson. S. Raphael Semiat. IFP. No. In order to minimize the energy expended per barrel of oil produced. Enhanced Oil Recovery – An Overview. 9. 1st Edition 1997.1. Environmental Science & Technology. Dietz. ABBREVIATIONS EOR: Enhanced oil recovery OSR: Oil to steam ratio CSOR: Cumulative steam to oil ratio CSS: Cyclic steam stimulation SAGD: Steam assisted gravity drainage SOR: Steam to oil ratio NOMENCLATURE ∆H ∆S ∆F a P R T W x γ µ = = = = = = = = = = = enthalpy difference entropy difference change in free energy activity vapor pressure gas constant. energy/mol mol fraction of component activity coefficient chemical potential Subscripts c = F. Farouq Ali. Srinivas (Vasu) Veerapaneni. Paper SPE-5558. Proceedings of the World Heavy Oil Congress. Daniel N. Energy Issues in Desalination Processes. Vol. Paper 2006-183.Conclusion Thermal EOR processes and surface facilities require high energy input to produce. Bruce Long. W. 6. George E. and Operational Data from the World’s First SAGD Facilities using Evaporators to Treat Produced Water for Boiler Feed Water. 1. 5. Oil &Gas Journal. Review of Thermal Recovery Methods. Commissioning. 2010 Worldwide EOR Survey. 10. 1975. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 37 (2003) 5-9. treat and transport the heavy oil from the reservoir. Heavy Oil – Ever Mobile. Reducing Energy Consumption for Seawater Desalination. 1998. Oil & Gas Science and Technology – Rev. No. Start-up. 6. June 13-15. SPE Textbook Series Vol. 8. Enhanced Oil Recovery.M. 6. Chapter 8. AWWA Journal.M. Acknowledgement The author wishes to acknowledge the support from SNC Lavalin management in the preparation and presentation of this paper. 2006. 2. Heins. G. Green. 14. Nadella. energy/moltemperature temperature.F. Heat integration and Pinch analysis allows quantification of the minimum energy requirements and optimization of the heat exchange networks. Don W. Vol. Canadian International Petroleum Conference. 2010.

Ceramic membranes Silica and hardness removal using hot lime softeners or warm lime softeners followed by ion exchange Mechanical Vapor compression for evaporation Once through steam generators (OTSG) Drum type boilers Combined steam and power generation Process Options (In-situ Combustion) • Natural Lift • Steam Lift • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Emissions control Wastewater treatment • • • • • • Low NOx burners Flue gas desulfurization CO2 capture and sequestration Scale inhibition and disposal to injection wells Membranes for waste reduction and water recycle. Ceramic membranes Silica and hardness removal using hot lime softeners or warm lime softeners followed by ion exchange Mechanical Vapor compression for evaporation Ion exchange for TDS removal from condensed water Once through steam generators (OTSG) for injection steam Drum type boilers for superheated steam generation Combined steam and power generation Low NOx burners Flue gas desulfurization CO2 capture and sequestration Scale inhibition and disposal to injection wells Membranes for waste reduction and water recycle. free water knockout drum and electrostatic oil treaters. induced gas floatation and oil removal filters with crushed walnut shell media. Evaporation and crystallization for zero liquid discharge • • • • • • Gas separator Free water knockout Desanding tank and system Vapor recovery on the tanks Emulsion pumping Separate gas and emulsion pipelines Options for heat recovery or heat integration with Central Plant Blend treatment using a diluent.Table 1. High temperature and low-pressure separators. High temperature and low-pressure separators. Process Options for Thermal EOR Surface Facilities Process Unit Wells Process Options (Steam based EOR) • Gas Lift • Electric Submersible pumps (ESP) • Pump jacks • Well-Test Skid • Group separator • Emulsion pumping • Separate gas and emulsion pipelines • Multiphase pumps • Options for heat recovery or heat integration with Central Plant • • Produced Gas processing • • • Produced water de-oiling • • • • Blend treatment using a diluent. free water knockout drum and electrostatic oil treaters. Evaporation and crystallization for zero liquid discharge Well Pads & Pump Stations Oil Processing Water treatment Steam generation • • • 7 . Supply as fuel gas Excess gas compressed and used as lift gas or dehydrated and sent to offsite utility Sulfur removal unit for sour gases – several technologies Skim tanks. Heat recovery from hot produced gas Water vapor condensation H2S and CO2 removal Sulfur Removal Unit with sour gas flaring/incineration Skim tanks. induced gas floatation and oil removal filters with crushed walnut shell media.

Thermal EOR Methods Total EOR Total Thermal Production BPD 1.316 0.016.203 1.972 63 Steam 997. Production from Thermal Oil Recovery 8 .453 61 In-Situ Combustion 17.044 % of Total 100 1.06 Hot Water 2.624.EOR METHODS THERMAL NON-THERMAL HOT WATER STEAM IN-SITU COMBUSTION ELECTRICAL STEAM FLOOD THAI CSS: Cyclic Steam Stimulation LASER: Liquid addition to Steam for Enhanced Recovery SAGD: Steam assisted Gravity Drainage Vapex: Vapor Extraction Process SAGP: Steam Assisted Gas Push THAI: Toe to Heel Air Injection CSS LASER SAGD VAPEX VAPEX+STEAM SAGP Figure 1.14 Figure 2.


000 1.000 1.100.45% 31. FLOW CHART FOR ENERGY OPTIMIZATION 10 .85% 36.900.000 700.5 37.000 1.500.000 1.30% 35. kJ Figure 5.5 2.SOR vs Heat Content of Produced Fluids 2.55% 33.5 4.00% 32.000 900. kJ/BBL Bitumen Produced Heat Content of Produced Fluids.000 1.300.40% 36.0 SOR 3.700. Heat Content of Produced Fluids UTILITY COSTS UTILITY SYSTEMS DESIGN HEAT AND MATERIAL BALANCES PINCH ANALYSIS AND HEAT INTEGRATION WASTE HEAT AND LOW LEVEL HEAT RECOVERY OPTIONS HEX NETWORK OPTIONS PROCESS CONFIGURATION FIGURE 6.10% 33.75% 35.0 2.0 % of Input Heat 5.000 1. KJ Total heat input to Reservoir.000 2.0 4.300.5 5.90% Fraction of Input Heat Heat Content.5 3.000 300.100.000 500.65% 34.20% 34.

Bitumen Production: 30.000 BPD 2. Naphtha Diluent used to produce Dilbit 3. PROCESS HEAT Glycol Pumps 70° C 93 GJ/hr 30° C -40°C Combustion Air 0 GJ/hr 40°C 40°C NOTES 1. Natural Gas used in OTSG burners 5. Gas Lift used for well production 4. Boiler efficiency = 90% 7. Overall Heat Integration for SAGD Surface Facilities Figure 8.2 MW) 120°C OIL TREATMENT FWKO + TREATER Produced Water Dilbit 120oC 38 GJ/hr Dilbit 45oC Pipeline/Storage 120oC 90° C 1653 GJ/hr BFW 90°C 7 MPag. Composite Curves 11 . 286° C 213 GJ/hr 100 GJ/hr Flue Gas 144 GJ/hr 80oC 98°C 64 GJ/hr 5oC Makeup Water Steam 160° C POW ER (7. Heat transferred from steam to bitumen at 8° C 6.5 MW) STEAM GENERATION (OTSG) DEOILING & WATER TREATMENT (WLS) 80oC Waste Water 70oC Disposal Well BFW 180° C Recycle 50 GJ/hr Blow down 1444 GJ/hr 286oC 165°C 80 GJ/hr 70°C High TDS Water 70oC Disposal Well 75°C 145° C 90° C Glycol S/U Heater Natural Gas LP Steam Sep 6 GJ/hr 70°C HEAT TRACING. HEAT. The heat duty shown for boilers includes produced gas Figure 7. BLDG.POWER (1 MW) Lift Gas Produced Gas Treatment 110°C Produced gas 23 GJ/hr Gas Lift (RESERVOIR) Emulsion 179° C Sulphur 131°C Diluent 5oC POWER (1.

Overall costs vs. Heat Exchanger network Area Figure 10. ∆T minimum 12 .Figure 9. Temperature difference vs.

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