1. n. [Heavy Oil, Enhanced Oil Recovery]
A method of thermal recovery in which fire is generated inside the reservoir by injecting a gas containing oxygen, such as air. A special heater in the well ignites the oil in the reservoir and starts a fire. The heat generated by burning the heavy hydrocarbons in place produces hydrocarbon cracking, vaporization of light hydrocarbons and reservoir water in addition to the deposition of heavier hydrocarbons known as coke. As the fire moves, the burning front pushes ahead a mixture of hot combustion gases, steam and hot water, which in turn reduces oil viscosity and displaces oil toward production wells. Additionally, the light hydrocarbons and the steam move ahead of the burning front, condensing into liquids, which adds the advantages of miscible displacement and hot waterflooding. In situ combustion is also known as fire flooding or fireflood.