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  • What's new in production


    Victor A. Schmidt, Drilling Engineering Editor

    Some like it hotter. The world of heavy oil is "heating up." Two new technologies to produce this difficult petroleum resource are now close to commercialization. Heavy oils require substantial viscosity reduction before they can be produced. The industry routinely does this by adding heat in the form of steam. Standard practice is to produce steam in a central boiler plant and distribute the steam to the field's injector wells through insulated flowlines. Now, that method is being challenged because a central system delivers uneven steam quality across a field. This is caused by variable transport distances, rough terrain and deep wells. These factors lower the production that could be achieved with better and higher heat input. Air quality constraints in many areas limit burning of natural gas or other fuels to generate steam. Permits for new steam installations are also becoming harder to approve because of environmental land use restrictions.

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