Michael Prats
283 pp.; Softcover
SPE Monograph Series Vol. 7
ISBN: 978-1-61399-548-8
Society of Petroleum Engineers
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Thermal Recovery reviews major thermal recovery processes, emphasizing the reservoir aspects of those processes. It provides an overview of the underlying mathematics to assist in understanding how application of heat through various methods can improve oil recovery. It also discusses the application of different techniques to particular types of reservoirs and how to evaluate candidate reservoirs.


Mike Prats worked continuously for or with Shell Oil Company Affiliates from June 1, 1948 until his retirement on February 1, 1989. Most of his professional career was with Shell Research Laboratories in the U.S. and The Netherlands, emphasizing work in support of operations. He holds a BS degree (with honors – 1949) and an MA degree (1951), both in physics, from the University of Texas at Austin. During his 40 years with Shell, Prats used experimental, theoretical, and numerical approaches. In addition to thermal recovery processes (his main field of interest), areas of emphasis included displacement processes, hydraulic fracturing, reservoir characterization, unconventional raw materials (such as coal and oil shale), and reservoir compaction. Prats holds more than 30 patents, most of them related to oil-recovery techniques, including one for the recovery of oil from tar sands by a steam-injection technique that was the basis for the project at Peace River, Alberta, Canada. His monograph on Thermal Recovery, published by SPE in 1982 (also translated into Spanish), still serves as a text in petroleum engineering. In the early 1980s, Prats did preliminary feasibility analysis (in The Hague) for waterflooding a chalk reservoir in the North Sea, was Senior Reservoir Engineering Advisor and later Manager, Special Reservoir Engineering Studies, to MARAVEN S.A. (in Caracas) before returning to the U.S. in early 1984 to support Shell’s thermal operations in California, especially those in the South Belridge Field. Prats is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences; a corresponding member of the Mexican National Academy of Engineering; an Honorary Member of SPE and AIME; and a recipient of the 1974 SPE Lester C. Uren Award, the 1993 Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal, and the Thermal Recovery Distinguished Achievement Award. Prats is a past Director and Senior Technical Editor for SPE, an SPE Enhanced Oil Recovery Pioneer, and president of a small consulting Firm. In the past, he has been a member of the faculty in the petroleum engineering departments at both the University of Texas (Austin) and Stanford University.

Thermal recovery methods • Physical and mathematical description of heat and mass transfer in porous media • Heating the reservoir • Hot-water drives • Steam drives • In-situ combustions • Cyclic steam injection and other thermal methods • Heat losses from surface and subsurface lines • Facilities, operational problems and surveillance • Evaluation of reservoirs for thermal recovery • Pilot testing