Kinetic Modeling of the In-Situ Combustion Process for Athabasca Oil Sands

Xiaolin Chen
Supervisor: Prof. Zhangxing (John) Chen


In-situ combustion is an effective thermal recovery method and provides an important alternative to steam injection, but it is not yet to be widely applied. A factor that has limited the application of ISC (in-situ combustion) is a lack of predictability at both the laboratory and field scales. The ISC process is very complex, and its modeling work requires an understanding of the behaviour of different physical phenomena including phase change, heat and mass transfer, and chemical reactions. A proper experimental kinetic analysis such as ramped temperature oxidation (RTO) provides critical parameters for modeling. In this study, the focus is to model appropriate kinetics and improve reaction models for this process.

The objective of this study is to develop reaction kinetic models that can be used to describe the reactions of hydrocarbon fractions at various temperature conditions during the ISC of Athabasca bitumen. In this work, a set of improved kinetic models including LTO, MTO, and HTO reactions based on Saturates, Aromatics, Resins, and Asphaltenes (SARA) fractions in the crude oil are established. These kinetic models are used to reproduce the RTO experimental results through numerical simulation and to obtain successful history matched results. These models are developed using more data sets than what is currently available in the literature.