Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process has been an optimized method to explore heavy oil reservoirs in the world. The oil viscosity reduction and gravity force near the interface of steam–chamber are the main development mechanisms. In classical models, conductive heat transfer plays the only or dominant role in the heat transmission from high-temperature steam to low-temperature oil sands. Although some mathematical studies have paid attention to the convective heat transfer, the role of heat transfer by flowable oil normal to the steam–chamber interface has been given little attention. In SAGD, the viscosity of bitumen can be reduced by several orders of magnitude by the release of latent heat from injected steam. In this study, an analytical model is developed for the heat transfer process induced by flowable oil. Also, in order to accurately simulate the oil viscosity characteristics in steam–chamber, a correlation between oil viscosity and pressure is proposed. Results indicate that the oil mobility plays an important role on the flow normal to interface when the distance is smaller than 6 m. Even under the most extreme circumstances (μw = 0.1127 cp), the flowing of oil normal to steam–chamber interface also cannot be ignored. Comparing to Irani and Ghannadi model, it can be easy to draw the conclusion that the new model consists with the underground test facility (UTF) field data much better. This new analytical model will benefit to understanding the convective heat transfer mechanism in SAGD process.

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