In-situ combustion front monitoring and tracking using InSAR

In-situ combustion is the oldest thermal recovery technique and is in use for nearly a century. It has enabled many economically successful resource extraction projects. In-situ combustion is commonly regarded as a high-risk process because of many failures during the early field tests. Our latest publication in cooperation with the world-renowned Stanford University shows the potential of interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) to locate the combustion front during the field application of the in-situ combustion (ISC) enhanced oil recovery process.

Mohammad Bazargan, Physical Science Research Assistant at Stanford University, has published an article in The Leading Edge, in association with Stanford Professor of Energy Resources Engineering Anthony Kovscek, and SkyGeo CEO Pieter Bas Leezenberg, detailing this use case.
The time derivative of surface displacement (surface velocity) suggests the advancement of the combustion front, consistent with reservoir engineering analyses in the literature is exhibited in the InSAR data. This insight is very promising for the industry to lower risks in ISC cases as the combustion front may now be predicted.
Monitoring using InSAR benefits from the existence of a thin high-temperature combustion front to accurately determine the front position. Analytical and numerical examples of a homogeneous, isotropic and horizontal reservoirs show that regardless of the depth of the reservoir, the combustion front is positioned at the local maximum of the rate of surface displacement. These results are consistent with analytical solutions for distribution of point stress in the earth.

ISC InSAR field Case Suplacu de Barcau

Business cases are always key in support of new insights. The research was applied to a field case of Suplacu de Barcau, Romania, that has a long history of ISC. For the Suplacu Field, surface displacement rate data were generated using InSAR from 2003 to 2010 and 2014 to 2017. Thermo-mechanical effects were so strong that we saw the dynamic footprint on the surface with very high precision . The predicted positions of the combustion front did match the available historical data for Suplacu in 2006 and 2010. Also, the position of the combustion front in 2017 was well predicted using the most recent InSAR data. This information offers incisive data that supports reservoir and production engineering design decisions.

Full report available

The full text of the report is available to The Leading Edge members. We encourage SkyGeo customers beneficiary to our research and analysis contributions to request their copy via your regular contacts. If your company is interested in knowing more about breakthrough InSAR technology insights, and would like to monitor your ISC site, contact our consultancy team with your requirements and questions.