Improving oil recovery processes for less waste in the energy industry

Through physical model experiments in the lab, reservoir simulation, and field test support; InnoTech can improve oil reservoir recovery and optimize production through well flow enhancement, the development of effective products to control oil and gas well leakage, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, and overall energy efficiency.

InnoTech’s experts have the skillset, and our facilities are setup to shorten the path between an idea to field application. We can conduct limited-scope comprehensive testing all the way to full-scale projects to prove a concept through field demonstrations.

Our Energy division is a main research provider to the AACI consortia program and other in-situ focused joint industry programs (JIPs) the companies can participate in. Organizations from across an industry, even if they are competitors can sometimes face the same challenges and problems with technology or processes, a JIP can solve these issues. A company becomes a member by paying into a common pool, sometimes there is government funding or grants available to boost this amount, and the research and development efforts benefit all of the members of the JIP.

What is in this section?

Sub-Services

Solvent-Based Recovery
Solvent-Based Recovery

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Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) & Cyclic Steam Simulation (CSS)
Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) & Cyclic Steam Simulation (CSS)

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Well Remediation & Testing Alternative Plugging Materials
Well Remediation & Testing Alternative Plugging Materials

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Improvement to Waterflooding
Improvement to Waterflooding

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Our Capabilities & Specialized Testing
Our Capabilities & Specialized Testing

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Polymer Flooding Heavy Oil Joint Industry Program
Polymer Flooding Heavy Oil Joint Industry Program

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Solvent-Based Recovery

InnoTech offers support to develop on-site, solvent-based recovery processes and technologies for bitumen and heavy oil. These methods significantly improve oil mobility and reduce residual oil left behind after waterflooding.

These solvent-based processes are now viewed by the energy industry and Alberta Innovates-Clean Resources as the alternative to current Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and Cyclic Steam Simulation (CSS) methods which are high in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water use.

Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) & Cyclic Steam Simulation (CSS)

SAGD and CSS will remain the dominant commercial in-situ bitumen and heavy oil recovery technologies for the next 10 years. However, that doesn’t mean that these processes cannot be improved and optimized in the meantime.

InnoTech focuses on three key subject areas for SAGD and CSS improvement: non-condensable gas injection, the use of chemical additives to reduce steam usage, and the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning in SAGD operation (particularly for horizontal well control).

Well Remediation & Testing Alternative Plugging Materials

Currently at InnoTech, several major research projects are focused on efficient detection methods to identify leaking wells and major methane emissions. These efforts aim to develop and field test advanced techniques to find and remediate leaky wells. Leaky wells in thermal or steam operations are of particular interest since the remediation techniques need to be specifically designed for high temperatures.

We have successfully established a robust program for testing alternative well plugging products under InnoTech’s asset retirement services in collaboration with the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC). This allows more efficient adoption of new technologies and methods throughout the oil and gas industry.

An oil pump jack in an empty brownfield

Improvement to Waterflooding

Waterflooding is intended to recover residual oil, but due to the poor sweep efficiency caused by the mobility ratio between the water and displaced oil, some of that oil remains in the reservoir. InnoTech researches and applies chemical enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes by using polymers to thicken the injected water. This improves the mobility ratio and sweep efficiency. We also add a surfactant and/or an alkali to reduce the surface tension and improve oil displacement efficiency.

Our researchers have successfully implemented many field projects on chemical EOR processes in western Canada and internationally. A Joint Industry Program (JIP), with members from operating companies and chemical vendors, researches the polymer flooding of heavy oils and has been ongoing for 10 years. The research topics range from basic machine and technology investigations to field-related operations.

Our Capabilities & Specialized Testing

Micromodel Floods

  • Displacement mechanism (examples: fingering & chemical/oil/porous medium interactions)
  • Rapid chemical screening process
  • High temperature & pressure conditions
  • Advanced dual imaging systems (full & close-up views to microns)
  • Advanced image processing technique 

Benchtop Chemical Screenings

  • Polymer filterability
  • Rheology test under steady and dynamic modes
    • RheoStress 600 and TA DHR 2
  • Polymer MW & size distribution – AF2000 system
  • Microemulsion phase behaviour test
  • Dynamic IFT measurement – DataPhysics Spinning drop tensiometer SVT-20
  • Adsorption test (static and dynamic conditions)
  • Surfactant analysis – HPLC-ELSD & titration
  • Anaerobic tests under minimal oxygen level
  • Chemical compatibility & long-term stability

Coreflood Tests under Reservoir Conditions

  • Linear & 3D models
  • Determine oil recovery efficiency
  • Determine chemical propagation parameters
  • Investigate injectivity issues and remediation 

Simulations

  • Lab-scale
    • Relative permeability curves
    • Chemical transport parameters
  • Field scale
    • History match reservoir performance

Polymer Flooding Heavy Oil Joint Industry Program

The business purpose of this JIP is to develop enhanced waterflooding processes for heavy oil reservoirs up to 20,000cP.

Member Benefits of this JIP

  • Excellent leverage for research and development investment
  • Direct involvement in setting up research priorities and providing R & D directions
  • Access to innovative research results for guiding potential field practice
  • Provides an opportunity to network and learn from the experience of other members

The Focus of the JIP

  • Mobility Control
    • Polymer injection Strategy through 8m-long slim-tube
  •  Injectivity issues and remediation
    • Factors influencing polymer injectivity and corresponding remediation
  •  Improve the separation efficiency of field produced fluids containing polymers
  • Post-polymer flood treatment
  • Blocking and diverting
  • Features diagnosis and corresponding conformance treatment