This paper describes the application of the Electric Preheat Model (EPM) in tandem with Intercomp's Steam Model (1979) for history matching/performance prediction of the PCEJ Electric Preheat/Steamdrive Pilot test carried out in The Athabasca McMurray reservoir during 1981–83. The objective of the PCEJ Pilot was to determine if the McMurray formation could be electrically heated sufficiently to create well to well temperature and fluid communication. The EPM was developed by the PCEJ Group over a period of almost five years and was initially calibrated with the results from extensive laboratory and back-yard testing of the electric preheat process. The reservoir description used in the computer study of the field test was initially developed from the log/core data and field pre-test results. With this, the EPM was used to develop an optimal electric preheat operating strategy for the pilot. As the field test progressed, the Electric Preheat Model was continually updated and enhanced for variations in the reservoir characteristics and process mechanics. Using the first six months field data, performance predictions were made for the remaining five months of pilot operation including special post electric preheat tests. The final results (temperature, reservoir physical and fluid state, etc.) of the electric preheat modelling study were then used to develop the reservoir description for the Steam Model. With this, predictions were made of the time required for well to well communication with steam. As the pilot operation progressed, the Steam Model was used to successfully simulate the steamdrive, steam cycling and hot water/steam injection performance of the electrically preheated pilot pattern. This modelling study provided a great deal of insight into the process mechanics and thus helped in operating the field test in an almost optimal mode.


The history of the work discussed in this paper goes back to 1959 when a group of companies, Atlantic Richfield, Imperial Oil Ltd. and Canada Cities Service limited, pooled all their in-situ land holdings in the Athabasca Oil Sands Deposit. The group changed its name to PCE following the acquisition of Atlantic Richfield Canada Ltd. by Petro-Canada (Operator) In August, 1976, and the formation of Esso Resources Canada Limited in September, 1978.

During the years 1959 through 1978, the group directed its efforts to developing a recovery process applicable to the Athabasca deposits. The result was electric preheat followed by steamdrive; the preheat creates injectivity in the formation and well to well communication, the steam assistsin displacing the bitumen.

In November 1978, Japan Canada Oil Sands Ltd. (JACOS) joined the PCE Group and the Group became known as PCEJ with Petro-Canada being the Operator.

From 1973 to 1978, many laboratory tests and studies including scaled model tests, numerical simulation, economic evaluation, reservoir engineering studies and a "back yard" test were carried out. The result was the development of an electrode well design, preliminary operating strategies, process characterization data, pilot configurations and numerical simulators. Concurrently, core-hole programs were carried out to locate a pilot site which, in general, represented the character of most of the PCEJ lands.

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