SAGP is a thermal oil recovery process that is similar to Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) but which involves the addition of a small concentration of a non-condensable gas to the steam. This paper is a continuation of parts 1 and 2 presented at the 48th and 49th Annual Technical meetings of the Petroleum Society.
Theoretical developments and laboratory experiments continue to show significant improvements for the process as compared to SAGD. Experimental results have now been obtained with Athabasca crude oil as well as Cold Lake and Lloydminster type oils.
In SAGP much of the oil displacement is caused by the flow of fingers of gas/steam rising counter-currently to the draining oil, rather than by the simple advance of a continuous steam chamber. The rising gas fingers raise the pressure in the reservoir above and this increase in pressure towards the top of the reservoir tends to push the oil down. Gas accumulates in the upper part of the reservoir and oil drains to the production well near to the bottom. The mechanism is discussed in the paper together with results from recent scaled, physical model experiments.
The work demonstrates that SAGP may be expected to produce oil at rates nearly equivalent to SAGD but with much lower steam consumption.
The successful applications of the Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) process in the fields have provided tremendous opportunities for the development of heavy oil and bitumen resources. SAGD field projects are continuing to be constructed following the successful testing of the process at the AOSTRA's Underground Test Facility (UTF) (now Northstar's Dover project). In addition to Canadian projects, this process has also been field tested in other countries. Most recently, the SAGD project in the Tia Juana field in Venezuela is reported to produce average oil rates of 700 bpd per well pair from first year's operation.
Although SAGD is effective in producing bitumen and heavy oils, it requires large quantity of heat to heat the whole chamber to saturated steam temperature and the heat loss to the overburden is high. The process may become uneconomic in some reservoirs such as those with thin sands, low porosity, low oil saturation and bottom water zones. To extend the range of reservoirs that can be produced economically with SAGD technology, a new process was developed to reduce the heat loss to the overburden while maintaining high oil drainage rates.
The Steam and Gas Push (SAGP) process involves the addition of a small amount of non-condensible gas to the steam. The accumulation of gas in the upper part of the chamber reduces the average temperature in the chamber and the heat loss to the overburden. As a result, the steam requirement is reduced and oil/steam ratio is improved. Both theoretical and physical model studies have been carried out at the University of Calgary with support from participants from industry, since the process was described firstly by one of us at the 48th Annual Technical Meeting of the Petroleum Society in 1997.