the steam chamber. Further, an increased overall recovery wasobserved, most likely from the gas assistance in the productionof previously inaccessible reserves. The simulation model developed to describe, as well as further observationsregarding the behavior of NCG in the reservoir, are discussed.
Geographically located in northeast Alberta, the Athabasca OilSands deposit forms part of the western Canadian oil sands.With an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of oil in place, it isarguably the single largest oil deposit in the world. SAGD,developed by Butler
in the early 1980’s, is to date, the mostsuccessful in-situ method of exploiting this resource. Severalfield trials from 1983 to present including PetroCanadaCorporation’s Dover Pilot (Dover) have been conducted. These projects have demonstrated the success of SAGD in fieldapplications. The results of these projects have createdenormous interest in SAGD for use on a commercial scale, withseveral large scale projects on line and predicted SAGD production by 2010 ranging from 500,000 to 1,000,000 barrelsof oil per day
.The early stages of SAGD recovery are now well understoodthrough extensive field and laboratory testing. However, thistechnology is still developing with most field pilots having beenrun for less than five years. The Dover SAGD Pilot is the mostmature pilot of its kind in the world. Further, it is composed of well pairs of varying maturity, within distances that could allowthe well pairs to interact. As a result, a study of the Dover Pilothas been undertaken in an attempt to understand the behavior of the transmissibility of water and gas in and in front of the steamchamber. A schematic illustrating the well layout at Dover can be found asFigure 1.
Phase A – Water Transmissibility
Cold Water Injectivity Test
The first phase of the pilot, Phase A, consisted of threehorizontal well pairs, approximately 55m in length, separated by approximately 25m. Twenty-six, vertical observation wellswere drilled from surface through the reservoir, to measuretemperature, pressure, and surface heave resulting from thesubsequent SAGD operations. From November 12-28, 1987, prior to the first steam injection into Phase A, a cold water injection test was undertaken. The water was injected into theA1 (center) injection and production wells. The injection took place at hydrostatic pressure of between 1550 – 1100 kPa, theoriginal reservoir pressure was 510 kPa. Initial water injectioninto each well was 12 m
/d, falling to 8 m
/d over the course of the test. The pressure responses at the observation wells areshown inFigure 2
Of interest is the relative positioning of the observation wellswith respect to the depth of the horizontal wells. Assuming anaverage surface elevation, the
approximate depths of AP1(producer) and AI1 (injector) were 161m TVD and 156m TVDrespectively. Only the piezometers in AGP1, AGP2, and AGP4at the respective depths of 157.6m, 157.6m and 160m TVDwere located at depths at or below that of the horizontal wells.All three of these piezometers demonstrated a pressureresponse, and the logs of these wells indicate that all three piezometers are located in bitumen rich zones. It can therefore be inferred from the pressure responses that water did movehorizontally through this sand.A numerical model was created based on Chalaturnyk’s
geological description of the area in order to evaluate the water injection movement and associated pressure responses in themodel. Figure 3,Figure
show the historymatch obtained for the water injection, as well as the pressure behavior at AGP1, AGP2, and AGP4. Also in the simulationmodel, the pressure from the injection has traveled laterallyfrom the injection wells, consistent with the observations in the piezometers located in the upper portions of the reservoir.In order to achieve full injectivity of water in the simulation, thefollowing parameters were adjusted:i)
The irreducible water saturation was decreased and aslight relative permeability to water was created over therange in which the initial water saturation is mobile, toallow the injection of water into the model.ii)
The endpoints of the water relative permeablities wereadjusted upwards in the water saturation region fromirreducible to 45%. This allowed water to propagatehorizontally and prevented large pressure build-ups near the injection points.iii)
Saturations were changed by introducing a small freegas saturation and the correspondingly decreasing oilsaturations. The addition of gas saturation preventedsharp pressure responses. The reduction of bitumensaturation allowed the water saturation in the model to be maintained, preventing an associated reduction in therelative permeability to water and maintaining thenecessary water injectivity.The pressure responses at the piezometers coupled with thesustainability of water injection into AI1 and AP1 providestrong evidence of cold water transmissibility within theMcMurray Formation.
Phase A Numerical Simulation
Steam injection into the Phase A horizontal wells began inDecember 1987, and concluded in December 1989. Over thistime, bitumen recovery of approximately 25,000m
, 60%recovery of OOIP, and a steam injected to oil recovered ratio(SOR) of 2.38 had been achieved. This exceeded the performance of any previous in situ bitumen recovery performance in Alberta up to that time, and Phase A remainsone of the few SAGD pilots to undergo a complete wind down.
Utilizing the geological model based on Chalaturnyk’s work,and incorporating the increased water mobility, a history matchof the Phase A Pilot was undertaken, the results of which can befound inFigure 6.The enhanced water transmissibility in themodel prevented the extreme pressure build-up around thechamber, allowing full injectivity.The question then becomes, how, with increased water mobility,can steam be contained within the over-pressured steamchambers?