Economics of Steam Generation for Thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery
Identifying the appropriate fuel for thermal EOR projects in large Persian Gulf fields requires analysis of a variety of options, including solar, for power generation.
The thermal-enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) steam-generation projects in Persian Gulf oil fields are on such a large scale that they affect an entire country’s economic position. As such, the policies related to oilfield steam generation should be decided at the national level by use of the cost of the marginal fuel. This paper calculates the steam cost for three methods: once-through steam generator, once-through heat-recovery steam generator, and solar steam generator. Detailed performance and economic models of the steam-generation methods were created and used to calculate the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and the fuel break-even (FBE) price. The environmental and economic burdens on the cost of steam generation are explored. The effect of fuel price on the cost of steam is also analyzed, with a focus on the marginal fuel price. Finally, the limitation of cogeneration in an isolated oil field, where the energy demand necessitates electricity-matched cogeneration, was analyzed. This limitation, along with the steam cost at the marginal fuel price, provides the decision maker with a steam-supply curve.
For the case analyzed in this paper, the cost of solar steam is lower than that of cogeneration or a simple boiler for fuel prices greater than USD 5/million Btu.