Thermal recovery in california early days 1960 1966

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Thermal Recovery in California Early Days: 1960-1966 Early efforts to improve heavy oil productivity in California used bottomhole heaters or in-situ combustion. Bottomhole heaters did improve well productivity 1 , but their success was limited by both relatively small heat input rates and the fact that they depend upon conductive heat transfer from the wellbore to the formation. Although some success was obtained with in-situ combustion projects, the high fuel (coke) deposition from the heavy crudes resulted in high air requirements. This, coupled with the difficulty in operating and controlling the in-situ process, limited its application. The first official mention of steam injection in California was cyclic steam injection in the Yorba Linda Field in 1960. 2 In 1961, cyclic injection began in the Kern River Field, and in 1962 two additional fields started cyclic steam (Coalinga and McKittrick), and steamflooding began in Kern River. Although companies were beginning to test steam injection, in-situ combustion was still popular, as five new combustion projects were begun in 1962. 3 Secrecy surrounded the early steam tests as noted in this reference to testing in the Coalinga Field in 1962, “In other portions of the field, recovery of oil by various means of production stimulation appears to be on an increasing trend. The degree of success by these methods is a secret closely guarded by the operators, and little information has been made available to the public.” 2 However, neighboring operators were observant, and steam generators were difficult to hide. A dramatic expansion of steam injection projects was soon to follow. Cyclic Injection In the three years 1960-1962, cyclic steam injection was tested in four fields. In 1963, cyclic injection was tested in five additional fields, more than doubling the number of fields. However as evidence of success became apparent, there was an amazing increase in the number of applications. Cyclic steam injection was tested in thirty-two additional fields in 1964, and in eighteen more in 1965. Thus, in only six years cyclic steam injection went from a single field test to testing or application in 59 separate fields. Although the earliest tests were generally carefully selected (seven of the first nine fields tested went on to long-lived highly successful steam operations), many of the tests in 1964-1967 were the result of enthusiasm to test the process. Much of this enthusiasm came from the potential to obtain a rapid increase in cash flow and the ability to conduct a test with minimal permitting requirements and the use of rental steam generation equipment. The effects of high temperatures on casing and cement were poorly understood, as were the range of desirable reservoir properties. Thus, a number of tests were short-lived and unsuccessful. However, in only seven years, cyclic steam injection was essentially a full-grown process in California. In SPE 84848 Forty Years of Steam Injection in California - The Evolution of Heat Management E.J. Hanzlik and D.S. Mims, Members SPE, ChevronTexaco
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2 SPE 84848
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  • Summer '18
  • Heat Transfer, Steam assisted gravity drainage, Steam injection, Heat Management

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