On the Stability of the Edge of a Steam-Assisted-Gravity-Drainage Steam Chamber
- Mazda Irani (RPS Energy) | Ian D. Gates (University of Calgary)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- April 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 280 - 288
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 539 since 2007
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Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is a successful thermal-recoverytechnique applied in oil-sand reservoirs in which the viscosity of the oil(bitumen) is typically in the hundreds of thousands to millions of centipoise.For the in-situ production from bitumen reservoirs, bitumen viscosity must bereduced to achieve the mobility required to flow toward the production well.Many factors influence the efficiency and rate at which bitumen is mobilized.The controlling feature of steam-based recovery processes is heat transfer fromthe steam chamber to the formation?the greater the heat flux, the larger theoil volume heated, and the higher the oil-drainage rate. Previous studies havedemonstrated that instability at the steam-chamber edge can enhance heattransfer there by creating limited-amplitude steam fingers that enlarge theheat-transfer area, thus leading to greater thermal efficiency of the recoveryprocess. This, in turn, increases oil production. At this point, stabilitystudies have focused on the instability between steam and oil at the edge ofthe chamber?none has examined the case between steam condensate and oil. In theresearch documented here, the stability between steam condensate and bitumen atthe edge of the chamber is explored. Here, a steam-pressure diffusion equationat the moving chamber interface is derived. the perturbations of the pressureand condensate velocity are substituted into the pressure diffusion equationand Darcy's law to realize a linear-stability equation governing the growth ofdisturbances at the interface. The results show that the stability iscontrolled by moving-interface velocity and reservoir water-phase hydraulicdiffusivity. Also, the results demonstrate that, at typical SAGD-operationconditions, the chamber edge is unstable.
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