Tayfun Babadagli

Professor University of Alberta
  • One should recall that statistics predict oil will continue to be the main source of energy for the next 2 decades, with heavy oil constituting a great portion of that. That means that, while the oil industry is going through unprecedented and even unpredictable economic downturns, the status of heavy oil is still unquestionable.
  • Reviewing a myriad of papers presented at different conferences during the past year, I can group the current trends in heavy-oil operations and research into two major categories: Process optimization and use of chemicals as additives to steam and water.
  • The cost reduction per barrel of oil produced and the extension of sustainable production life by optimization have been two major areas of focus, but the investments in new technologies and recovery-improvement research have not received sufficient attention during the downturn.
  • Despite the recent downturn, a significant number of pilot- or demonstration-scale applications of existing technologies to develop new heavy-oil fields or new technologies to develop existing fields have been reported over the past year.
  • Cost optimization in heavy-oil production can be achieved through numerical modeling to suggest general optimal strategies and development plans or by using proper real-time data acquisition … for prompt decisions while operations are ongoing.
  • To sustain the current level of heavy-oil production, which comprises roughly 12–15% of total production, process efficiency must be enhanced to control costs.