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VAPEX Enhanced Oil Recovery

Vapor extraction (VAPEX) is a non-thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique used for heavy oil and bitumen production. While it’s similar in concept to steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) and cyclic steam stimulation (CSS), it uses vaporised hydrocarbon solvents instead of steam to thin the heavy oil.

A large portion of the world's energy resources exists in heavy oil and bitumen reserves. But the viscosity of these hydrocarbons prevents them from flowing on their own. Extracting them becomes even more challenging when they’re buried deep beneath the surface.

Key fact: It’s estimated that heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs contain six trillion barrels of STOOIP (stock-tank original oil in place)

VAPEX can improve production rates from these reserves by lowering the viscosity of the oil. The process involves drilling a horizontal well directly above a deposit and injecting this with a solvent, which then dissolves in the reservoir and dilutes the heavy oil. This allows it to drain by gravity into a lower horizontal production well.

Benefits

  • Extremely energy efficient process

  • Lower CAPEX than needed for SAGD

  • Allows for in situ upgrading of the oil

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