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Numerical Simulation of Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage With Vertical Slimholes
- Jeannine Chang (Devon Canada) | John Ivory (Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures) | Cathal Tunney (Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- December 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 662 - 675
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7 in the last 30 days
- 542 since 2007
- Show more detail
Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is the primary in-situ recovery method for bitumen from the large Athabasca deposit in Alberta, Canada. SAGD field operations encounter a significant decrease in production performance when low-permeability shale barriers are present in the formation. These layers can reduce SAGD performance and impede the growth of the steam chamber. They also significantly limit the percentage of the deposit from which bitumen can be economically recovered with SAGD. The concept of drilling vertical slimholes to create flow paths through barriers was conceived and investigated at Alberta Innovates?Technology Futures (AITF), formerly the Alberta Research Council. The use of slimholes has the potential to significantly increase the amount of recoverable bitumen (reserves) and the rate at which it is produced during SAGD. For shallow reservoirs, the slimholes could be drilled from the surface at a relatively low cost. It is believed that the process can be economically viable after its technical operation has been optimized with improvements in drilling technology, slimhole size and spacing, and enhanced usage of the slimholes in the development of steam chambers above the shale layers. Alternatively, the slimholes could be drilled from the horizontal wellbores (to avoid surface disturbance) as either horizontal slimholes from the producer or as horizontal/vertical slimhole combinations from the injector. The 2D and 3D field-scale numerical simulations were performed by use of reservoir properties and operating conditions based on published information for the MacKay River SAGD operation in the Athabasca deposit. The reservoir depth was 135 m, the initial pressure 500 kPaa, the initial temperature 7.5°C, and the initial oil saturation (SO ) 0.8. The simulations explored the effect of vertical slimholes, which were laterally offset 7 m from the horizontal well-pair in reservoirs with and without shale layers or shale lenses. The effects on SAGD performance that were investigated were slimhole cross section (25 cm x 25 cm or 50 cm x 50 cm), the distance between slimholes (12 or 24 m) in the direction parallel to the well pair, the permeability of the reservoir and the vertical slimholes, and horizontal slimholes from the injector or producer. The slimhole cross section represents the disturbed area adjacent to the drilled slimhole and the drilled hole itself and is therefore relatively large. The slimholes were represented as high-permeability vertical channels by use of refined grids. For a reservoir with a continuous shale layer, SAGD performance was improved by vertical slimholes because of the recovery of previously inaccessible oil from above the shale layer, where a secondary steam chamber was formed.
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