The Grosmont formation, a carbonate reservoir in Alberta, Canada, has 400 billion bbl of bitumen resource, which is currently not commercially exploited. The carbonate reservoir is karstified by groundwater and tectonically fractured, resulting in three classes of porosity: matrix, vugs, and fractures. The viscosity of bitumen is lowered by four to six orders of magnitude when heated by steam. Since December 2010, the Saleski pilot project evaluated steam-injection-recovery processes by use of four well pairs, two each in the Grosmont C and Grosmont D units. For the first year of the pilot, two well pairs were operated with continuous injection and production similar to successful steam-assisted-gravity drainage(SAGD) projects in Alberta oil sands. Reservoir observations of steam/oil ratio (SOR) and calendar-day oil rate (CDOR) indicate recovery by gravity drainage is viable, although operating practices from conventional SAGD must be modified for the Grosmont formation. The decision to evaluate cyclic injection and production from single wells was made in early 2012, although it was recognized that cyclic operations created new challenges for the facility (which was built for SAGD operations) and artificial lift. The pilot data indicate that the drilling conditions (balanced vs. overbalanced), completions (openhole vs. slotted liner), and acid treatments of the wells have a significant impact on the individual-well performance. Injectivity into the Grosmont reservoir is high, even into a cold reservoir, because of the existing fracture system. Injection pressures stayed less than 40% of the estimated pore pressure required to lift the overburden. 4D-seismic results indicate that the injection conformance along the well axis is close to 100% and that the heated area is laterally contained around the well. Productivity is comparable to oil-sands project performance. The decline of oil rate is not only dependent on pressure but also on temperature. For cyclic operations, a CDOR of 43 m3/d (for a 450-m-long well) and an SOR of 3.4 were achieved, demonstrating that with sufficient scale, a commercial project can be established successfully. The pilot has satisfactorily derisked the Grosmont reservoir at Saleski. While cyclic operations have demonstrated economic performance, continuous injection and production similar to SAGD remains an alternative recovery strategy beyond startup in the later depletion stage. Successful future developments will advance the optimization of drilling, completion, artificial-lift, and plant capacity issues, while the reservoir itself has demonstrated its production capacity.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.