Understanding the Thermo-Hydromechanical Pressurization in Two-Phase (Steam/Water) Flow and its Application in Low-Permeability Caprock Formations in Steam-Assisted-Gravity-Drainage Projects
- Sahar Ghannadi (University of Alberta) | Mazda Irani (RPS Energy) | Rick Chalaturnyk (University of Alberta)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- December 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,126 - 1,150
- 2014.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.3.9 Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 7.4.4 Energy Policy and Regulation
- two-phase (steam/water) flow , thermal pressurization, caprock integrity, SAGD, thermo-hydromechanical pressurization
- 4 in the last 30 days
- 359 since 2007
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Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is one successful thermal-recovery technique applied in Alberta oil-sand reservoirs. When considering in-situ production from bitumen reservoirs, one must reduce viscosity for the bitumen to flow toward the production well. Steam injection is currently the most promising thermal-recovery method. Although steamflooding has proved to be a commercially viable way to extract bitumen from bitumen reservoirs, caprock integrity and the risk of losing steam containment can be challenging operational problems. Because permeability is low in Albertan thermal-project caprock formations, heating greatly increases the pressure on any water trapped in pores as a result of water thermal expansion. This water also sees a great increase in volume as it flashes to steam, causing a large effective-stress reduction. After this condition is established, pore-pressure increases can lead to caprock shear failure or tensile fracturing, and to subsequent caprock-integrity failure or potential casing failure. It is typically believed that low-permeability caprocks impede the transmission of pore pressure from reservoirs, making them more resistant to shear failure (Collins 2005, 2007). In considering the "thermo-hydromechanical pressurization" physics, low-permeability caprocks are not always more resistant. As the steam chamber rises into the caprock, the heated pore fluids may flash to steam. Consequently, there is a vapor region between the steam-chamber interface penetrated into the caprock and the water region within the caprock which is still at a subcritical state. This study develops equations for fluid mass and thermal-energy conservation, evaluating the thermo-hydromechanical pressurization in low-permeability caprocks and the flow of steam and water after steam starts to be injected as part of the SAGD process. Calculations are made for both short-term and long-term responses, and evaluated thermal pressurization is compared for caprocks with different stiffness states and with different permeabilities. One can conclude that the stiffer and less permeable the caprock, the greater the thermo-hydromechanical pressurization; and that the application of SAGD can lead to high pore pressure and potentially to caprock shear, and to subsequent steam release to the surface or potential casing failure.
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