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Field-Scale Analysis of Heavy-Oil Recovery

by Electrical Heating
B. Hascakir, Middle East Technical University; T. Babadagli, University of Alberta;
and S. Akin, Middle East Technical University

Summary
Electrical heating for heavy-oil recovery is not a new idea, but the
commercialization and wider application of this technique require
detailed analyses to determine optimal application conditions. In
this study, applicability of electrical heating for heavy-oil recovery
from two heavy-oil fields in Turkey (Bati Raman and Camurlu)
was tested numerically. The physical and chemical properties of the
oil samples for the two fields were compiled, and in-situ viscosity
reduction during the heating process was measured with and without using iron powder. Iron powder addition to oil samples causes a
decrease in the polar components (such as carboxylic and phenolic
acids) of oil, and the viscosity of oil can be reduced significantly
because of the magnetic fields created by iron powders. Three
different iron-powder types at three different doses were tested to
observe their impact on oil recovery. Experimental observations
showed that viscosity reductions were accomplished at 88 and 63%
for Bati Raman and Camurlu crude oils, respectively, after 0.5%
iron (Fe) addition, which was determined as the optimum type and
dose for both crude-oil samples. Next, field-scale recovery was
tested numerically using the viscosity values obtained from the
laboratory experiments and physical and chemical properties of
the oil fields compiled from the literature. The power of the system, operation period, and the number of heaters were optimized.
Economic evaluation performed only on the basis of the electricity
cost using the field-scale numerical modeling study showed that
the production of 1 bbl petroleum costs approximately USD 5,
and at the end of 70 days, 320 bbl of petroleum can be produced.
When 0.5% Fe is added, oil production increased to 440 bbl for
the same operational time period.
Introduction
Crude oils whose API gravity is smaller than 20 are called heavy
oil (Conaway 1999). The key to produce oil from these resources
is to reduce oil viscosity, and that is best accomplished by heating
these resources, which can be achieved by thermal methods (i.e.,
hot-fluid injection, in-situ combustion, and thermal stimulation)
(Farouq Ali 2003; Prats 1982). Apart from the common thermal
methods, electromagnetic heating and electrical heating can also
be considered as alternative thermal methods. While steam-based
methods have been more successful economically and technically than others, alternative heating methods were found to be
uneconomical for heavy-oil recovery because of the high operating
costs in the past (Thomas 2007). Because of recent increase in oil
prices, the electrical heating technique could be considered as a
commercial method (Campbell and Laherrre 1998).
Electrical-heating tools and their applications can be divided
into three categories on the basis of the frequency of electrical
current used by the tool (Sahni et al. 2000):
(1) Low-frequency currents are used in resistive/ohmic heating.
(2) High-frequency currents are used in microwave heating
methods.
(3) Induction tools have the ability to use a wide range of lowto medium-frequency currents, depending on heat requirements
and desired temperature.

Copyright 2010 Society of Petroleum Engineers


This paper (SPE 117669) was accepted for presentation at the International Thermal
Operations and Heavy Oil Symposium, Calgary, 2023 October 2008, and revised for
publication. Original manuscript received for review 5 August 2008. Revised manuscript
received for review 14 March 2009. Paper peer approved 20 March 2009.

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

These methods are applied in the field by using a downhole magnetron or heater (Prats 1982).
Heating with frequencies less than 300 kHz can be described
as electrical-resistance heating (ERH) (Maggard and Wattenbarger
1991). This mode of heating for petroleum recovery has been
known since the late-1960s. Reservoir-simulation models (RangelGerman et al. 2004; Sierra et al. 2001) and experimental models
(Newbold and Perkins 1978; Amba et al. 1964) have been used in
the past to study electrical heating. Electromagnetic heating such as
microwave heating for recovery of heavy oil from thin pay zones,
was studied experimentally (Jha and Chakma 1999; Acar et al.
2007). In order to enhance the electromagnetic heating efficiency,
use of receptors such as activated carbon, iron oxides, and polarized solvents has been proposed (Jackson 2002).
In this study, applicability of electrical heating for heavy-oil
recovery from two heavy-oil fields in Turkey (Bati Raman and
Camurlu) was tested experimentally and numerically. Experimental studies were conducted to study the efficiency of the method.
In addition, to reduce the viscosity of oil, different types of iron
powders were used. Experimental results coupled with the data
available in the literature were used to simulate the process numerically at the field scale.
Theory
As an electromagnetic wave that is radiated from the electrodes
into the oil-bearing formation propagates into the formation, fluids and other reservoir materials impede its passage by providing
resistance to the flow. As a result, the intensity of the propagating
wave is reduced and the energy is converted to heat. There are
key differences between low- and high-frequency heating. At low
frequencies, resistance heating dominates compared to dielectric
heating that dominates at higher frequencies.
Heat transfer from an electromagnetic-wave source to a porous
medium can be described by the energy equation. Evolution of
temperature as a result of electrical energy can then be obtained
by the heat equation, with the following modification:

c p

I
I
T
I I
+  f c pf v f T = c T + P , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)
t

where , cp, and c are the density, specific heat capacity, and
I
thermal conductivity of the medium, respectively; f , cpf , and v f
are the density, specific heat capacity, and superficial velocity,
respectively, of the fluid phase; and P is the electromagnetic dissipated power per unit of volume,
I based on Maxwells equations, is
a function of the electric field E and the effective conductivity ()
of the medium, and is represented by the following expression:
P=

 +  tan  I 2
E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2)
2

The energy efficiency of electromagnetic heating is affected


by the medium dielectric properties and their variations while
heating. The electromagnetic-heating process is directly related
to the frequency employed (=2f). For the low frequencies
( >>  tan ), ionic heating is dominant, which is accomplished by
heating the ions almost entirely by transfer of energy from the hotter, more-mobile electrons which carry the bulk of the current. For
high-frequency cases ( <<  tan ), dielectric heating is the main
thermal process, which can be defined as the heating of electrically
nonconducting materials by a rapidly varying electromagnetic field.
131

In both cases, the dissipated power distribution, and consequently


the temperature behavior, depends directly on the electric-field
distribution that, in turn, depends on the electromagnetic applicator
used. For practical reasons, the applicator must radiate in all directions of the hydrocarbon medium surrounding the wellbore.
Experimental Study
Field Characteristics. The electrical-heating recovery potentials of two conceptual heavy-oil reservoirs (Bati Raman and
Camurlu fields in Turkey) were investigated experimentally. The
Bati Raman and Camurlu fields are two well-known sizable heavyoil deposits in Turkey. Because of existing potential (i.e., high
amount of oil in place), these fields were considered prospects
and their recovery potentials under electrical heating were investigated. The key to produce oil from such heavy-oil resources is
to reduce oil viscosity, and that is best accomplished by heating
these resources up to 500C, which is known as the pyrolysis
temperature (Farouq Ali 2003; Johannes et al. 2007). Viscosity
reduction can be accomplished better when the temperature distribution is more homogeneous. In order to achieve homogeneous
temperature distribution, thermal conductivy of the reservoir can
be increased by the aid of some additives. The properties of these
fields are given in Table 1. The Bati Raman field is the largest oil
field in Turkey, with estimated original oil in place of 1.75 billion
STB (Bardon et al. 1986). It is located in southeastern Turkey
and contains low-pressure, low-gravity (9.5 to 13.5API) oil at
an average depth of 4,300 ft (Arslan et al. 2007). The producing
formation is the Garzan limestone, a very heterogeneous carbonate
of the Cretaceous age. The reservoir fluid is a very heavy crude
oil, having a viscosity ranging from 450 to 1,000 cp at reservoir
conditions (Sahin et al. 2008). Average matrix porosity is 18%,
with mainly vugs and fissures, and secondary porosity is 1 to 2%.
The typical matrix permeability by core analysis is 10 to 100 md;
however, well tests show effective permeabilities in the range of
200 to 500 md, confirming the contribution of secondary porosity
(Karaouz et al. 2007).
The Camurlu oil field located in southeast of Turkey close to
the Syrian border was discovered in 1975. It contains approximately 60 million m3 (380 million bbl) of a low-API-gravity oil
(1012 API) in the Lower Sinan formation (Gondiken 1987). The
poor quality of the oil, the heterogeneity of the reservoir, and the
presence of a large gas cap are responsible for the low primary
recovery, estimated at less than 1% (Kantar et al. 1979).

Experimental Setup and Procedure. The thermal conductivity


of the limestone is in the range of 1.261.33 Wm1K1 (Holman
1990). To increase the thermal conductivity of the reservoir rock,
three different types of iron powders were added to the heavy-oil
samples: iron (Fe), ferric oxide (Fe2O3), and ferric chloride (FeCl3).
Besides increasing the thermal conductivities, iron powders also
assist in decreasing in the percentage of polar compounds in the oil,
causing a reduction in the viscosity of the oil caused by decreased
hydrogen bonding (Kershaw et al. 1980). Iron powders exhibit
properties similar to suspensions of magnetic nanoparticles called
ferrofluids that exhibit magnetic properties enabling a magnetic
control of their properties and flows. The viscosity of such fluids
can be influenced strongly by magnetic fields (Odenbach 2003),
causing a reduction in oil viscosity, which will eventually have a
positive effect on the recovery.
Different types of iron powders (FeCl3, Fe2O3, and Fe supplied
from Merck) were mixed with the oil samples in powder forms
homogeneously using mixers. The average particle size of Fe and
Fe2O3 is 10 m. FeCl3 was crushed by a porcelain mortar and
pestle, and its average size is slightly greater than 10 m. After
addition of iron powders, good viscosity reductions were obtained
even at room temperature. Viscosity reduction at ambient condition (no heating) can be attributed to the chemical reactions of
iron powders. The most well-known Fe reaction is rusting which
is an exothermic reaction that releases heat energy. Iron also may
undergo reactions with some compounds in the heavy-oil samples.
On the other hand, formations of magnetite (FeOFe2O3) and iron
sulfur (FeS) also involves exothermic reactions (Holleman and
Wiberg 2001). Since heavy oil can contain some impurities (e.g., S,
N, and O), FeS may form after the addition of iron powders. These
reactions may occur at the same time, causing further decrease in
the viscosity of oil at elevated temperature (Carbon 2008).
The iron-mixed oil samples were stable and fairly homogeneous during the experiments no gravitational segregation of iron
powders is possible because of the high gravity of oil.
In the presented study, viscosities of heavy-oil samples were
determined by using the Haake viscometer. It consists of three
different sensors for the determination of different oil viscosities.
The sensor system is classified as a coaxial-cylinder sensor system,
with two gaps for shearing the sample on the inside and on the
outside of the rotor. These sensor systems inherit a temperature
vessel, which is connected to an accurate thermal liquid circulator.
The selection of the sensor is made according to the viscosity of

TABLE 1RESERVOIR PROPERTIES OF HEAVY-OIL FIELDS


Field

Units

Bati Raman

Camurlu

Region

South Batman

Mardin-Nusaybin

Limestone

Limestone

Reservoir temperature

129

115

Reservoir pressure

psia

1,750

1,700

Rock compressibility

kPa

Rock heat capacity


Rock thermal conductivity
Depth
Molecular weight
Bottomhole pressure

5.44*10

5.44*10

J/m . C

2315

2198

J/m.day.C

111888

111888

1310

800

g/mole

1342

1000
46

kPa

53

Average porosity

18

14

Average permeability

md

58

40

Initial water saturation

21

23

Average API gravity

13

12,2

Specific gravity

0,9772

0,985

Average viscosity

cp

592

700

ppm

40000160000

100000

1850

378

Formation water salinity


Original oil in place

*10 STB

* Issever et al 1993; Bardon et al. 1986; Farouq Ali 2003.

132

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

10000
10

100

Viscosity (cp)))

1000

Camurlu
Bati Raman

Temperature (C)
20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Fig. 1Viscosity variations for the heavy-oil samples considered in this study (Hasakir and Akin 2006).

the oil; that is highly viscous fluids can be measured by the SV


sensor while the NV is used for nonviscous fluids.
Viscosity determinations were carried out both for the raw
samples and for the samples after the addition of iron powders.
Types and doses of the iron powders were optimized according to
the best oil-viscosity reduction. In the optimization process, three
different doses of the iron powders were used; 0.1 wt%, 0.5 wt%,
and 1 wt%.
In order to understand the fluid rheology, to examine the viscosity better, shear-stress () and shear-rate ( ) values for each
sample were interpreted by using the following fluid models (Rao
1999):
Newtonian model

 =
, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3)
Power-law model

 = K n, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (4)
Bingham model

 o =
` , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5)
and Casson model
TABLE 2CAMURLU CRUDE-OIL VISCOSITY VALUES
AFTER THE ADDITION OF IRON POWDERS*

 0.5 = K0c + Kc ( )0.5, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6)


where K is the consistency index (Pasn); n is the flow-behavior
index; o is the yield stress; Kc is the slope; and the K0c is the
intercept of the shear-stress vs. shear-rate graph.
A Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose stress vs. rate-of-stress curve
is linear and passes through the origin. The power-law, Bingham,
and Casson models represent the non-Newtonian-fluid behavior.
In the power-law model, shear-stress/shear-rate plots show linear
characteristics when plotted on double logarithmic coordinates and
describe the data of shear-thinning and -thickening fluids. If the fluid
exhibits a yield stress, this fluid behavior can be described with the
Bingham model. The Casson model is a structure-based model.
Experimental Results. To measure the viscosities of two different
heavy-oil samples, a rotary-type viscometer was used. Experiments
were started at room temperature and ended at 100C. The viscosity
variations given in Fig. 1 show that Bati Raman crude oil is more
viscous than Camurlu crude oil. After obtaining viscosity variation
with temperature for raw crude-oil samples, effects of three different
iron powders (Fe, Fe2O3, and FeCl3) and the three different doses of
these iron powders (0.1, 0.5, and 1 wt%) were tested with respect to
the reduction of oil viscosity. The results shown in Tables 2 and 3
indicate that 0.5% Fe iron powder by weight is optimum for both
crude-oil types (Hasakir and Akin 2006).
TABLE 3BATI RAMAN CRUDE-OIL VISCOSITY VALUES
AFTER THE ADDITION OF IRON POWDERS*

Experiment Type

Viscosity
at 20C (cp)

Viscosity
at 100C (cp)

Experiment Type

Viscosity
at 20C (cp)

Viscosity
at 100C (cp)

Without catalysts

1,132

113

Without catalysts

2,037

324
150

With catalysts (by wt%)

With catalysts (by wt%)


0.1% Fe2O3

1,150

156

0.1% Fe2O3

1,039

0.5% Fe2O3

1,299

337

0.5% Fe2O3

1,300

170

1% Fe2O3

1,244

337

1% Fe2O3

270

160

0.1% FeCl3

1,085

145

0.1% FeCl3

361

127

0.5% FeCl3

1,149

173

0.5% FeCl3

304

137

1% FeCl3

1,067

185

1% FeCl3

308

170

0.1% Fe

1,060

191

0.1% Fe

299

136

0.5% Fe

749

85

0.5% Fe

247

125

1% Fe

868

181

1% Fe

505

230

* Hasakir and Akin 2006

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

* Hasakir and Akin 2006.

133

0,5

1,5

2,5

3,5

4,5

500

3. y = 252,54x0,2676
R2 = 0,9276

200

300

400

Shear Stress (Pa)

Shear Rate for 3 & 4 (s )

1. y = 0,0767x + 11,24
R2 = 0,9253

100

4. y = 2,0232x + 115,68
R2 = 0,9996

2. y = 0,0638x + 4,7733
R2 = 0,9599

Shear Rate for 1 & 2 (s )

200

400

600
1

800

1000

1200

Fig. 2Determination of Bati Raman crude-oil rheology. Raw oil samples (Curves 3 and 4) both show non-Newtonian characteristics at the room temperature (Curve 3), giving a better fit to the power-law model, and at 100C (Curve 4) a better fit to the
Bingham model. Both iron-added cases showed characteristics very similar to those of Newtonian fluids.

To clarify the effect of iron powders on the oil properties,


not only viscosity measurements but also shear-stress vs. shearrate relationships were graphed (Figs. 2 through 5). In Figs. 2
through 5, Lines 1 and 2 indicate the rheology of the samples
after the addition of 0.5% Fe at room temperature and 100C,
respectively; Lines 3 and 4 present the rheology of the raw samples at room temperature and 100C, respectively. Bati Raman and
Camurlu crude oils show non-Newtonian characteristics at room
temperature. Power-law, Bingham, and Casson models were used
successfully to model their behavior. When the temperature was
0,5

1,5

2,5

25

increased further through the heating circulator, fluid-rheology fit


was better with the Bingham model for one case (Bati Raman raw
oil at 100C). After the addition of optimum iron type and dose
(0.5% Fe) to the Bati Raman oil, the yield point and its resistance
to flow decreased. Gunal and Islam (2000) showed that asphaltene
content of the crude oil affects the rheology of crude oil when the
crude oil has been treated with electromagnetic radiation. They
found that the electrical properties of asphaltenes are such that they
are susceptible to changes in colloidal structures of the molecules
(related to colloidal properties) in the presence of electromagnetic

0.5

-1

for 3 & 4 (s )

0.5

20

(Pa)

Shear Rate

4. y = 0,2051x + 10,681
R2 = 0,9524

10

15

Shear Stress

3. y = 5,1686x + 10,111
R2 = 0,979

1. y = 0,2555x + 1,6254
R2 = 0,9508

0.5

-1

for 1 & 2 (s )

Shear Rate

2. y = 0,2548x + 0,5479
R2 = 0,9613

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

Fig. 3Testing Bati Raman crude-oil rheology using the Casson model.
134

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

350
Shear Stress (Pa)

300
250
200

2. y = 0,1633x1,0553
R2 = 0,9984

3. y = 1,4003x0,8674
R2 = 0,9723

4. y = 2,0232x + 115,68
R2 = 0,9996

50

100

150

1. y = 1,4515x0,8785
R2 = 0,9641

-1

Shear Rate (s )

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

450

500

Fig. 4Determination of Camurlu crude-oil rheology. Raw oil samples both show non-Newtonian characteristics giving a better
fit to the power-law model. Both iron-added cases showed Newtonian characteristics.

of the microstructure of asphaltenes after treatment with electromagnetic irradiations is warranted, but is beyond the scope of this
paper. One interesting feature is that all viscosity values converge
to values that are close to each other. A higher temperature removes
the effect of permanent alteration of asphaltene orientation that
might have caused alteration of the crude oil.
Numerical Simulation
Model Construction. All simulation runs were performed using
the electrical-heating option of a commercial reservoir simulator

20

irradiation. They proved that there is simultaneous dependence on


electromagnetic treatment and asphaltene concentration such that
as the power of electromagnetic treatment was increased, the viscosity at a given temperature increased as well. This dependence,
however, depends on the temperature itself as well as the amount
of asphaltenes. When the asphaltene content of the heavy crude oils
used in this study are considered, Bati Raman contains the highest
amount of asphaltene (29% by weight) (Akin et al. 2000), followed
by the Camurlu crude. Thus, the rheology of Bati Raman crude is
expected to be affected more than the Camurlu crude oil. A study

1. y = 0,7132x + 1,5686
R2 = 0,9729

4. y = 0,3422x 0,1565
R2 = 0,9859

10

Shear Stress

0.5

(Pa)

15

2. y = 0,4782x 0,1492
R2 = 0,9996

3. y = 0,6509x + 1,766
R2 = 0,945

0.5

(s )

Shear Rate

10
1

15
3

20
4

25

Fig. 5Testing Bati Raman crude-oil rheology using the Casson model.
February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

135

Laboratory Scale:
r=0.015 in.
d=10 cm
z=20 cm
Grids 20110

Field Scale:
r=4.5 in.
d=100 cm
z=30 m
Grids 20110

Fig. 6Grid sizes used in simulations.

showed that the effect of other experimentally measurable properties, including relative permeability variations on oil production, is
trivial (Hasakir et al. 2008). Figs. 7 and 8 show that high-viscosity
cases and low-temperature values yield better viscosity reduction
for the samples with 0.5% Fe added, owing to a possible magnetic
effect such as those observed for ferrofluids (Odenbach 2003). The
other reservoir-rock and -fluid properties needed for the simulator
are summarized in Table 1 and Fig. 9.
Numerical Results. During the numerical runs, the power given
to the system, the number of heaters used in the process, and the
operation times were optimized. Simulation results are given in
Tables 4 and 5 and in Figs. 10 and 11. The optimization criterion
was determined as the highest oil production for the most economic
case. On the basis of the results, the second run for the Bati Raman
crude oil and the ninth run for the Camurlu crude oil were selected
as optimum conditions. While the production increases after the
addition of 0.5% Fe for Bati Raman crude oil, no significant effect
of iron addition was observed for the Camurlu crude oil. It can

1,0E+03

[STARS by Computer Modelling Group Ltd. (CMG)]. The


domain was discretized into 20110 3D radial blocks of varying size in the r-direction and constant in the z-direction. The
dimensions of the reservoir for the field case and the grid size
for both laboratory and field cases are given in (Fig. 6). While,
porosity, permeability, thermal conductivity, rock heat capacity,
rock compressibility, viscosity variation with temperature, and
relative permeability of the reservoirs are the required input data,
temperature and oil production values are the output data for the
numerical-simulation studies. All required input data, except for
viscosity variations with temperature, were compiled from laboratory measurements and literature data. Because the simulator
requires viscosity values up to a certain temperature that could
possibly be reached during electrical heating, the viscosity values
given in Fig. 1 were extrapolated to obtain the viscosity values
for temperatures higher than 100C. The extrapolated values for
raw heavy-oil samples and heavy-oil samples containing 0.5% Fe
are given in Figs. 7 and 8. The viscosity/temperature relationship
has an important effect on the oil production. Sensitivity analyses

1,0E-21

Addition

0,0077x

y = 273,72e
2
R =1
0,0274x

y = 6235,1e
2
R =1

1,0E-15

1,0E-09

Oil Viscosity (cp) )

1,0E-03

Raw

Temperature (C)
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

1600

1800

2000

2200

Fig. 7Extrapolated viscosity values for Bati Raman crude oil.


136

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

1,0E+02
1,0E-26

1,0E-19

1,0E-12

Oil Viscosity (cp) )

1,0E-05

Raw

Addition

0,0247x

y = 2637,8e
2
R =1

0,0337x

y = 3831,2e
2
R =1

Temperature (C)
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

1600

1800

2000

2200

Fig. 8Extrapolated viscosity values for Camurlu crude oil.

krw, kro
1

krw
kro

0,8

0,6

0,4

0,2

0
0

0,1

0,2

0,3

0,4

0,5

0,6

0,7

0,8

0,9

Sw
Fig. 9Water/oil relative permeability curves used in the simulation for heavy-oil samples (Spivak et al. 1989).

TABLE 4NUMERICAL-MODEL RESULTS FOR CAMURLU CRUDE OIL


Number
of Runs

Number
of Heaters

Operation
Time (days)

Total
Power (W)

Total
Energy (kWhr)

10

60

29762

42857.28

10

70

34722

58332.96

60

14881

21428.64

10

70

57870

97221.6

10

60

49603

71428.32

10

60

69444

99999.36

10

70

81019

136111.92

10

60

19841

28571.04

10

70

23148

38888.64

10

10

70

11574

19444.32

11

10

60

9921

14286.24

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

137

TABLE 5NUMERICAL-MODEL OPTIMIZATION FOR BATI RAMAN CRUDE OIL


Number
of Runs

Number
of Heaters

Operation
Time (days)

10

60

8930

12859.2

10

70

10417

17500.56

10

60

9921

14286.24

10

70

11574

19444.32

10

60

19841

28571.04

10

70

23148

38888.64

10

60

29762

42857.28

10

70

34722

58332.96

60

14881

21428.64

10

70

17361

29166.48

11

60

29762

42857.28

12

70

34722

58332.96

13

60

19841

28571.04

14

70

23148

38888.64

Total
Energy (kWhr)

recovery of oil in a short period of time is economically feasible


and possible.
The heater power is also determined by using the numerical
model. The optimum powers determined for Bati Raman and
Camurlu crudes are 10 and 23 kW, respectively, and these powers
were applied by the help of 10 heaters, which was determined as
the optimum number of heaters for both of the crudes. This means
that one heater should have a capacity 1 kW for Bati Raman crude
oil and 2.3 kW for Camurlu crude oil.
Discussion. It was observed that oil production is primarily
affected by viscosity reduction with temperature. Also, the heating
time, the numbers of heaters and the power given to the system
have a certain impact on oil production. Therefore, optimization
of these three parameters was achieved in the numerical study.
Furthermore, different relative permeability and depth values were
tested through a sensitivity analysis to check the effects of depth
and relative permeabilities on oil production. It was observed that
change in the relative permeability and depth has no critical effect
on the oil production.
600

40000

be concluded that addition of iron powders positively affects the


reduction of viscosity as the oil gets more viscous.
Electrical heating was suggested as a continuous, not cyclic,
process, and it occurs simultaneously with production of reservoir
fluids (Mcgee et al. 1999). Thus, at continuous heating time, three
different recovery times were selected (i.e., 60, 70, and 90 days).
It is observed that the recovery rate decreased substantially after
6090 days of heating for the Bati Raman crude oil and after 7090
days for the Camurlu crude oil because of the high heat-loss rate.
Therefore, 70-day heating/production time was selected as the
optimum operation time for the recovery from the Bati Raman and
Camurlu wells. The optimum number of heaters was determined
as 10 for both heavy-oil samples. Production variation with time
is given in Fig. 12 for raw crudes and crudes containing optimum
type and dose of iron powder (0.5% Fe). An economic evaluation
was carried out by considering only the electricity costs in Turkey determined by the Turkish Electric Distribution Incorporated
Company (www.tedas.gov.tr). Table 6 summarizes the economic
evaluation of this study in terms of the cost of electricity, for
only the best oil-production results. As can be seen easily, the

Total
Power (W)

300
200

100

10000

Production (bbl)

20000

Power (W)

)))

400

30000

500

10

11

12

13

14

Fig. 10Simulation results for Bati Raman crude oil (1: Raw crude oil; 2: Crude oil containing 0.5% Fe).
138

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

500

100000

300

100

200

Production (bbl)

20000

40000

Power (W))))

60000

400

80000

10

11

500

Fig. 11Simulation results for Camurlu Crude oil (1: Raw crude oil; 2: Crude oil containing 0.5% Fe).

100

200

300

Production (bbl)

400

Time (days)
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Fig. 12Oil production (1: Raw Bati Raman crude oil, 2: Bati Raman crude oil containing 0.5% Fe; 3: Raw Camurlu crude oil, 4:
Camurlu crude oil containing 0.5% Fe).

TABLE 6ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF THE STUDY*


Sample Name

Addition

# of Heater

Total Operation
Time (days)

Oil Production (bbl)

Cost of the
Study (USD/bbl)

10

70

320

4.84

Bati Raman

0.5% Fe

10

70

440

3.52

Camurlu

10

70

429

6.88

Camurlu

0.5% Fe

10

70

419

7.04

* 1USD = 1.29YTL; Electricity cost = 0.11416 YTL / 1kWh (http://www.tedas.gov.tr).

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

139

The results also revealed that the effectiveness of the electrical-heating process for both fields is very limited (Fig. 13). Thus,
increasing the heating time neither helps to increase the effectiveness of heating area nor decreases the cost of the process. Seventy
days was observed as an optimum heating/production time period
for each well. Note that each well was defined to produce from a

100-m drainage radius and through 30-m pay thickness (Fig. 6).
To enhance the production further, different options can be considered, including drilling more wells per area, increasing the heating
area effectively using iron powders, or continuing the production
with another process (i.e., flooding), taking advantage of already
reduced oil viscosity.

Fig. 13Temperature profiles obtained during field-scale simulation runs for two different oil types.
140

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering

Note that numerical simulations were performed on homogeneously distributed rock properties such as porosity and permeability.
Heterogeneous structures might have different impacts (positive or
negative) in the effectiveness of heating and heat distribution. This
could be considered as a further research subject.
Obviously, how the iron powders can be introduced into the
reservoir for practical applications is a critical issue. No application
or suggestion is available in the literature. For a reservoir close to
the Earths surface, mining can be an economic alternative for the
recovery of unconventional oil. In this case, the iron powders can
be added during the extraction process, which is a relatively easier
practice. For deep reservoirs in which in-situ recovery techniques
are needed, the iron powders should be injected into the reservoir
with a carrier fluid. In order to avoid emulsion formation in the reservoir, petroleum-based fluids (light crude or solvent) can be used
as carrier fluid instead of water. Using gas could be an alternative,
especially in tight formations such as shales. Oxidizing gases that
add a combustion component to the process or nonoxidizing gases
(i.e., N2, He, or Ar) are possible options, and this requires further
research in terms of injectivity and selection of proper injectant to
transfer the iron powders into the reservoir.
Conclusions
1. As the viscosity/temperature relationship was observed to be
the most critical parameter in modeling of electrical heating of
heavy-oil reservoirs in our previous study (Hasakir et al. 2008),
the viscosity values were measured experimentally. These data
were, therefore, extrapolated to obtain the viscosity values for
high temperature, as required by the simulator used.
2. Experimental data showed that Bati Raman and Camurlu crude
oils are non-Newtonian fluids and that they have a yield point.
3. Since the best viscosity reduction was obtained after the addition
of 0.5% Fe, it is selected as the optimum type and dose of iron
powder for both crudes, and the numerical simulations were
performed for this value of iron concentration and corresponding viscosity reduction.
4. The technical- and economic-feasibility analyses showed that
electrical heating is in an applicable range. Economic evaluation
conducted using the field-scale numerical-modeling study showed
that the electrical cost of the production of 1 bbl of petroleum is
approximately USD 5, and at the end of 70 days, 320 bbl of petroleum can be produced. When 0.5% Fe is added, oil production
increased to 440 bbl for the same operational time period.
5. While the production increases after the addition of 0.5% Fe for
Bati Raman crude oil, no significant effect of iron addition was
observed for the Camurlu case.
Acknowledgments
This work was funded by The Scientific and Technological
Research Council of Turkey and OYP-METU (Faculty Development Program-Middle East Technical University). The numericalmodeling part of the study was performed during B. Hasakirs
stay at the University of Alberta as a visiting PhD degree student.
We gratefully acknowledge this support. We also thank CMG for
providing the simulation software package and its electrical-heating option for this research.
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Berna Hasakir is a postdoctoral researcher in the energy
resources engineering department, at Stanford U. She was a
research and teaching assistant in petroleum and natural gas

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engineering department at Middle East Technical U., Turkey.


Hasakirs research interests include recovery of unconventional oil resources by thermal oil recovery methods, pyrolysis,
combustion, steam injection, and treatment of industrial and
domestic wastewaters. She holds BS and MS degrees from
Dokuz Eylul U., Turkey in environmental engineering, and a PhD
degree from the Middle East Technical U. in Petroleum and
Natural Gas Engineering Department. Tayfun Babadagli is a
professor in the civil and environmental engineering department, school of mining and petroleum engineering, at the U. of
Alberta. E-mail: tayfun@ualberta.ca. He previously served on
the faculty at Istanbul Technical U., Turkey, and Sultan Qaboos
U., Oman. Babadaglis areas of interest include modeling fluid
and heat flow in heterogeneous and fractured reservoirs, reservoir characterization through stochastic and fractal methods,
optimization of oil/heavy-oil recovery by conventional/unconventional EOR methods, and CO2 sequestration. He holds BS
and MS degrees from Istanbul Technical U. and MS and PhD
degrees from the U. of Southern California, all in petroleum
engineering. Babadagli is currently an Associate Editor for SPE
Res Eval & Eng. He previously served on the SPE Education and
Professionalism and the SPE Career Guidance and Student
Development Committees. Serhat Akin is professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at the Middle East Technical
U. (METU), in Ankara, Turkey. E-mail: Serhat@metu.edu.tr. He has
served on the faculty since 1999. Before joining METU, Akin was a
post-doctoral researcher and Blaustein Visiting Professor in the
petroleum engineering department, Stanford U. in 19961998
and 2006, respectively. He holds BSc, MSc, and PhD degrees
from METU all in petroleum and natural gas engineering.
Akins research interests include computerized tomography
applications, image processing, EOR, and reservoir and geothermal engineering. He received SPE Outstanding Technical
Editor awards in 2001, 2002, and 2004. Akin is an associate editor of SPE Res Eval & Eng and an editorial board member in
International Journal of Petroleum Science and Technology
(IJPST), The Open Petroleum Engineering Journal, and Turkish
Oil and Gas Journal.

February 2010 SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering