Your account already exists. Please login first to continue managing your settings.
Taking integration to the next level, model-based technologies aid in heavy oil production and maximize the potential of the digital oil field.
As the formal part of the SIS Global Forum wound down and the technical talks took center stage, two final presentations highlighted the promise that new systems and workflows can bring to the oil and gas industry.
Pippa Murphy, a senior geologist for SIS, showed the crowd on March 14 in Monaco a case study that helped optimize SAG-D operations in the heavy oil sands in Canada. Heavy oil resources count for half of the world’s oil reserves, with 350 billion barrels in China, Venezuela, Canada, and Nigeria, primarily. While these countries are reserves-rich, they present harsh operating conditions and very viscous oil, creating an extreme development challenge.
Although heavy oil in Venezuela can be developed through multilateral completions and cold production, the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada, must either be mined or developed through SAG-D operations. Both development scenarios are capital-intensive, with the latter including steam generation, upgrading facilities, pipelines and surface well pads.
“These facilities need to be right-sized with respect to the geology,” she said.
The basic concept of SAG-D development is to drill two parallel wellbores about 5.0 m (15 ft) apart. Steam is injected into the upper wellbore, and the resulting steam chamber makes the oil less viscous and able to flow toward the producing wellbores. It sounds simple enough, but Murphy’s team identified three key challenges -- facies heterogeneity, thief zones and the need for proper well placement.
Facies heterogeneity manifests itself as mud sections that act as barriers to steam movement. Thief zones are pockets of water and gas that pull the steam away from the producing wells. And with the number of wells required to develop these reservoirs, optimal well placement is key to provide maximum reservoir contact.
Murphy’s project used reservoir simulation to study the potential development and hoped-for convergence of the steam chambers as production advanced. Using one integration platform, the multidisciplinary team developed a workflow cycle that added new geological understanding and caused the operator to reconsider the well-pad placement based on the new information.
Meyer Bengio, vice president of petroleum engineering for SIS, discussed “Consistently Hitting Targets -- Integrated Product Integration.” In his talk, he discussed the advances in production technology that have led to a data explosion.
Installed instrumentation and wireless infrastructures aim to automate monitoring tools, he said, and as a result, production has increased by 9% while capex has been reduced by about $200,000 per well.
Yet these types of reservoir optimization are still not mainstream. “They’re hard to maintain and difficult to operate,” Bengio said.
The answer, he said, is model-based production with smart alarms and other optimization tools. SIS’s solution is Avocet, which uses data connectors, web interfaces, waterflood management, a reporting engine, and schematics to “crack the problem.”
The ultimate benefit from these tools is model-based surveillance, he said.
Contact the author, Rhonda Duey, at email@example.com.