Visualized study of thermochemistry assisted steam flooding to improve oil recovery in heavy oil reservoir with glass micromodels

Xiaocong Lyu*, Huiqing Liu, Zhanxi Pang, Zhixue Sun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Steam channeling, one serious problem in the process of steam flooding in heavy oil reservoir, decreases the sweep efficiency of steam to cause a lower oil recovery. Viscosity reducer and nitrogen foam, two effective methods to improve oil recovery with different mechanism, present a satisfactory result after steam flooding. In this article, a 2D visualized device was introduced to investigate the synergistic development effect of two different chemical additives and intuitively study their flowing characteristic in porous media, as well as macroscopic and microscopic mechanism of improving heavy oil recovery by chemical additives after steam flooding. The results showed that the fingering phenomenon was generated obviously in the process of steam flooding, which restricted the swept area of steam. Due to decreasing oil-water interface tension, O/W emulsion with lower viscosity was formed to enhance the oil flow capacity and polish up the displacement efficiency of steam after injecting viscosity reducer. And the synergistic effect of viscosity reducer & foaming agent was more conductive to improve displacement efficiency of steam, with 4.3% of oil recovery higher than purely viscosity reducer assisting steam flooding in this process. Microscopic results indicated that thermal foams can be trapped in the porous media to improve injection profile effectively and displace the residual oil caused by steam flooding. The ultimate oil recovery of synergistic development is 65.6%, 11.0% higher than one additive (viscosity reducer). This article can provide reference for the study of thermochemistry assisted steam flooding in heavy oil reservoir.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-126
Number of pages9
JournalFuel: the science and technology of fuel and energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


  • 2D visualized physical model
  • Microscopic mechanism analysis
  • Physical simulation
  • Steam flooding
  • Synergistic development
  • Thermochemistry


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