Why Reservoir Depth Matters for Steam Flooding

When you are checking out the screening criteria for a successful steam flood, the depth limitation might seem a little surprising. You expect to see the oil saturation and reservoir quality limits and intuitively we all know steam flooding is for heavy oils; but why does depth feature and how many reservoirs are shallower than 3,000' anyway? 

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Steam Flooding & Recovery Factors

To petroleum engineers' ears, attuned to the recovery factor that one can expect from a water flood (typically 30% to 40%, and only occasionally over 60%) the recovery factors that steam flooding can deliver, somewhere between 50% and 80%, seem inordinately high. A pinch of salt seems the appropriate accompaniment to the kind of claims that are routinely made for steam flood projects. But Chevron is one of the acknowledged leaders in the application of steam flooding, and their assessment is that a typical steam flood should recover between 50% and 80% of the original oil in place.

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UK Heavy Oil Developments: Another Billion Barrels to Come

The development of heavy oil in the UK goes back further than most people realise. All the way back to 1787, in fact. That was when miners struck a spring of natural bitumen while digging a canal tunnel for the Coalport Canal; indeed, with a little imagination the “Tar Tunnel” might be described as the UK’s first horizontal production well. 

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