Extra–Heavy Oil Recovery by Single–Phase Microemulsion Flooding

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Heavy oil and tar deposits are found in abundance in numerous locations around the world. Current thermal methods are controversial due to their potentially adverse effects on the environment. An alternative method of extra–heavy oil recovery is proposed that applies a novel method of single phase microemulsion to achieve extremely high oil solubilization. Phase behavior experiments (surfactant screening, salinity scans, and aqueous stability) were conducted focusing on single phase microemulsions. Tar sands from Canada were used for phase behavior studies and surfactant floods. Surfactant screening experiments showed that a blend of sulfate and sulfonate with alkali has the potential to achieve high oil solubilization. Although some extra heavy oil was recovered in the surfactant flood experiments, single–phase microemulsion failed to achieve the degree of solubilization that was measured in the phase behavior studies and several potential causes were examined.

Surfactant flood, Enhanced oil recovery