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Evaluation of Induced Thermal Pressurization in Clearwater Shale Caprock in Electromagnetic Steam-Assisted Gravity-Drainage Projects
- Sahar Ghannadi (University of Alberta) | Mazda Irani (RPS Energy) | Richard Chalaturnyk (University of Alberta)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- June 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 443 - 462
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 10 in the last 30 days
- 302 since 2007
- Show more detail
Inductive methods, such as electromagnetic steam-assisted gravity drainage(EM-SAGD), have been identified as technically and economically feasiblerecovery methods for shallow oil-sands reservoirs with overburdens of more than30 m (Koolman et al. 2008). However, in EM-SAGD projects, the caprock overlyingoil-sands reservoirs is also electromagnetically heated along with the bitumenreservoir. Because permeability is low in Alberta thermal-project caprockformations (i.e., the Clearwater shale formation in the Athabasca deposit andthe Colorado shale formation in the Cold Lake deposit), the pore pressureresulting from the thermal expansion of pore fluids may not be balanced withthe fluid loss caused by flow and the fluid-volume changes resulting from poredilation. In extreme cases, the water boils, and the pore pressure increasesdramatically as a result of the phase change in the water, which causesprofound effective-stress reduction. After this condition is established, porepressure increases can lead to shear failure of the caprock, the creation ofmicrocracks and hydraulic fractures, and subsequent caprock integrity failure.It is typically believed that low-permeability caprocks impede the transmissionof pore pressure from the reservoir, making them more resistant to shearfailure (Collins 2005, 2007). In cases of induced thermal pressurization,low-permeability caprocks are not always more resistant. In this study,analytical solutions are obtained for temperature and pore-pressure risescaused by the constant EM heating rate of the caprock. These analyticalsolutions show that pore-pressure increases from EM heating depend on thepermeability and compressibility of the caprock formation. For stiff orlow-compressibility media, thermal pressurization can cause fluid pressures toapproach hydrostatic pressure, and shear strength to approach zero forlow-cohesive-strength units of the caprock (units of the caprock with high siltand sand percentage) and sections of the caprock with pre-existing fractureswith no cohesion.
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