CSI, solvent huff and puff investigated

By Everett Dorma Posted: May 11, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Left to right: Dr. Ali Abedini (Post Doctoral Fellow), Dr. Farshid Torabi, P. Eng., Mr. Ken From, CEO of PTRC, Mr. Erik Nickel, Senior Project Manager, PTRC, Dr. Mehdi Mohammadpour (Post Doctoral Fellow).
Left to right: Dr. Ali Abedini (Post Doctoral Fellow), Dr. Farshid Torabi, P. Eng., Mr. Ken From, CEO of PTRC, Mr. Erik Nickel, Senior Project Manager, PTRC, Dr. Mehdi Mohammadpour (Post Doctoral Fellow). Photo: U of R Photography

CSI, solvent huff and puff, foamy oil and the head on a glass of beer – no it’s not the opening scenes of a popular TV crime series.

“Cyclic solvent injection (CSI), also known as solvent huff-and-puff is a method of enhancing heavy oil recovery that produces foamy oil, which resembles the head on a glass of beer,” says Dr. Farshid Torabi, Professor and Program Chair, Petroleum Systems Engineering at the U of R.

This foamy oil phenomenon is responsible for improving the production of heavy oil and is the focus of Dr. Torabi’s research, which is being funded by a $150,000 Petroleum Technology and Research Centre (PTRC) grant.

“We are interested in determining how two commonly used hydrocarbon solvents, methane and propane, affect the development of foamy oil and thus their efficiency in extracting heavy oil,” says Torabi.

Research to improve heavy oil production is worth billions of dollars to the industry and the province as conventional drilling methods extract less than 10 per cent of the available heavy oil. As well, alternative methods, such as steam injection present environmental, economic and technical challenges: creating the steam requires burning of fossil fuels; the steam is converted to water that needs to be treated before it is released; the cost of generating the steam is prohibitive and the process doesn’t work well in thin heavy oil reservoirs, which are often less than 10 feet thick, as the heat dissipates too quickly.  

The CSI process provides enhanced production rates and is a promising alternative to thermal production in both thin and thick heavy oil reservoirs.

“Our industry and government partners identify areas to improve heavy oil production and PTRC uses this information to solicit research projects and support researchers in investigating these issues,” says Ken From, CEO, PTRC. “We have developed a very positive and productive relationship with the University of Regina in supporting this research.”

PTRC, is the largest petroleum recovery research institute in Canada and is the University of Regina’s largest single research funding agency.  

For more information on PTRC visit: www.ptrc.ca

The University’s new strategic plan identifies research impact as one of our three priority areas.