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Analysis of Athabasca Oil Sands Investigates SAGD Performance Variability

Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) performance in bitumen-recovery projects in Alberta is affected by geological deposits, reservoir quality, and operational experience. The authors reviewed and analyzed actual field production and injection data for 28 Athabasca oil-sands-deposit SAGD well pairs (WPs). Based on analysis of field-production data, a numerical model was built and calibrated against production data from two of the poorer-performing WPs among the 28 studied. Agreement between simulated and actual cumulative oil and steam/oil ratio (SOR) was within 10% after 6 years of operations on a first-iteration basis.

Problem and Investigation Methodology

A survey of the literature reveals that some aspects of the SAGD process, particularly with regard to the behavior of gas, still largely are not understood. While successful history-matching simulations of SAGD WPs exist for several different projects, these rely on dead-oil pressure/volume/temperature treatment and exclude any findings and discussion on gas production. Such history-matched models likely would need to be modified significantly to be useful for modeling the wind-down stage of SAGD operations. Recent numerical studies modeling the generation of aquathermolysis gases focused on the injection of noncondensable gas into a mature SAGD steam chamber.

In preparation for a series of numerical studies on aspects of SAGD performance, a reservoir model simple enough to be relatively adaptable for different geological settings was built. Such a model had to be calibrated rigorously with actual production data to provide a high degree of confidence in its results and predictive capability in appropriate contexts. The investigation in the complete paper is aimed at addressing several fundamental aspects of SAGD operations, including the effects of reservoir heterogeneities and the behavior of gas. The first part of the complete paper is focused on reviewing and analyzing actual field production data spanning more than 1,700 days from 28 SAGD WPs from four different pads (A, B, C, and D) of the Jackfish 1 project; this synopsis will not include that extensive data.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 195348, “Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage Performance Variability—Analysis of Actual Production Data for 28 Athabasca Oil Sands Well Pairs,” by Quang T. Doan, Vincano; S.M. Farouq Ali, SPE, University of Houston; and Thomas B. Tan, SPE, Petrostudies Consultants, prepared for the 2019 SPE Western Regional Meeting, San Jose, California, 23–26 April. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Analysis of Athabasca Oil Sands Investigates SAGD Performance Variability

01 April 2020

Volume: 72 | Issue: 4

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