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Real-Time Optimization of SAGD Operations

The steam-assisted-gravity-drainage (SAGD) process along with an efficient steam-use process can reduce production costs and increase the oil-recovery rate. The use of real-time downhole monitoring is an effective approach to achieve this optimization. The use of downhole distributed-temperature sensing (DTS) and array-temperature sensing by use of fiber-optic technology has led to instrumented wells that enable data access on a real-time basis, leading to better control of operations, and to optimizing the steam process. Also, fiber-optic technology enables measuring pressure and temperature over the same fiber and in close proximity along the wellbore.

Introduction

At reservoir conditions, bitumen is essentially immobile, and recovery of these highly viscous fluids requires viscosity reduction, often by applying heat. The SAGD process is an effective recovery method for heavy oil and bitumen. The SAGD process typically uses two parallel horizontal wells that normally are separated vertically by approximately 5 m. The top well is the steam injector, and the bottom well is the producer. As steam is injected, a steam chamber will grow around and above the injection well. Despite its effectiveness, the SAGD process has many economic risks including a high initial investment for constructing the surface facilities and uncertainties related to product prices.

Displacement efficiency is a critical factor in controlling oil recovery from the steam chamber, and, although increased volumetric sweep is beneficial, the chamber-growth rate greatly affects the rate at which the displacement efficiency increases in the steam chamber. Increasing the volume of the steam chamber too quickly may decrease the effectiveness of the SAGD process.

This article, written by Senior Technology Editor Dennis Denney, contains highlights of paper SPE 157923, “Real-Time Optimization of SAGD Wells,” by Luis E. Gonzalez, SPE, Peter Ficocelli, SPE, and Tad Bostick, SPE, Weatherford, prepared for the 2012 SPE Heavy Oil Conference Canada, Calgary, 12–14 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Real-Time Optimization of SAGD Operations

01 June 2013

Volume: 65 | Issue: 6

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