Experimental Program and Pilot Results

Between 2007 and 2010, three field trials of solvent vapour extraction technologies were completed, along with well-defined laboratory studies that included scaled and mechanistic physical modeling and numerical simulations. The project demonstrated increased recovery rates from depleted heavy oil reservoirs. The impacts of temperature, pressures and optimizing solvent concentrations were all studied.

The field trials showed great promise, including overcoming one of the main obstacles to widespread deployment of SVX – solvent recovery.  JIVE research program was focused on optimizing the SVX process for more widespread commercial applications.  Husky’s pilot testing was so promising, it continues to experiment with and optimize its use of solvent vapour extraction in its operations.

Increased Oil Recovery

On average, 8% of heavy oil reserves are recovered in western Canada and forecasts for heavy oil production show a reduction of 50% over the next decade unless new technologies are applied to increase recovery rates.

The SVX technologies that were tested and developed through the PTRC’s JIVE program have the potential to increase recovery rates by between 20 and 50%. In western Canada alone that translates into 5 to 10 billion barrels of oil that otherwise would not be recovered.

Solvent vapour technologies can be used in both horizontal and vertical well configurations

Horizontal Well

Vertical Well

Environmental Impact Mitigation

If SVX processes are proven to be technically and economically viable, they could replace steam injection as the preferred heavy oil recovery method. With a Canadian heavy oil resource in excess of 26 billion barrels, and up to 20% of this amount recoverable, the use of solvent vapour in place of steam could allow enormous reductions in water use and CO2 emissions during oil recovery.

Compared to current steam extraction methods, SVX technology could influence the following changes for every billion barrels of oil produced:

  • Eliminate 85 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere
  • Save 400 million barrels of fresh water
  • Save 1.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from being burned.

Considering the billions of barrels of heavy oil still waiting to be recovered in Canada, and throughout the world, SVX technology could have a dramatic global impact on the industry’s water use and CO2 emissions.

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