Solar generated steam injection in heavy oil reservoirs: A case study

Afsar C., AKIN S.

RENEWABLE ENERGY, vol.91, pp.83-89, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 91
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.renene.2016.01.047
  • Journal Name: RENEWABLE ENERGY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.83-89
  • Keywords: Solar enhanced oil recovery, Steam injection, Heavy oil reservoir
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Combination of solar generated steam technology and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques have attracted a great deal of attention due to its positive impact on economics and on the environment. Solar steam project has already proven itself as it can reduce both gas consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80%. However, operational issues as well as geographical factors (i.e. terrain suitability, drill sites and future field development plans) may affect solar EOR operations. In this study, a heavy oil field in Southeast Turkey was evaluated to find whether solar EOR is technically and economically feasible. Operational data such as injection rate, steam temperature and steam quality were determined by using a numerical model. A solar collector system was designed and combined with the steam injection method. Results indicated that direct normal insolation (DNI) of the oil field location was not high enough to maintain continuous steam injection. In order to sustain continuous steam injection natural gas burner back-up system must be used when DNI is intermittent to maintain required steam especially during winter nights. Economic analysis of combined system showed that fuel saving cannot compensate the initial cost of solar project with current oil price. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.