The objective of this work is to evaluate and understand steam injection in heterogonous formation utilizing a state-of-the-art experimental apparatus. Heat transfer and efficiency for steam injection are evaluated in heterogeneous formation and compared with homogenous formation. The information obtained from the apparatus provided the key in designing effective steam injection for optimized recovery in heterogeneous formations.
This paper presents several successful experimental works and proposes solutions to overcome the challenges produced from heavy oil reservoirs. The technology utilizes advanced thermal apparatus to improve heat penetration depth into the formation and efficiency of the thermal heating. Steam is the most used technology due to its high latent heat capacity, cost and maturity. Steam injection should be carefully planned to ensure the injectivity to the target. Heterogeneity adds to the complexity of the operation, as the steam will propagate in different orientations. This study provides the key element to understand steam propagation to maximize the recovery efficiency. The experiments were carried out using heavy oil apparatus, which is designed to accurately simulate reservoir conditions. It measures one meter in length by one meter in width by one and a half meter in height. It has 65 thermocouples, 24 acoustic transducers, 9 vertical wellbores, 9 horizontal wellbores; these data are used for modeling and simulation. The apparatus can use sand or blocks.
Thermal technology is very effective to mobilize heavy and viscous oil; steam injection has been successfully and widely deployed due to its reasonable cost, maturity, and efficient thermal transfer to reservoir fluids. Understanding the formation is vital to ensure successful steam-based stimulation, especially in heterogonous reservoirs. To this end, an apparatus was designed to evaluate steam injection in heterogonous formations. This is one-of-a kind studies that evaluates heterogeneity effect at a large scale and provides detailed analysis. First, steam is injected in homogenous formation to establish a baseline of heat propagation in formation. Second, the apparatus is filled in layers resembling a heterogonous formation, and steam is injected at same conditions (i.e., wellbore depth and injection rate and pressure). The device collected a real-time temperature map using 65 thermocouples. 3D graph and animations are plotted to visualize and evaluate the pattern and trend of steam propagation in both homogenous and heterogeneous formations.
The apparatus is uniquely deigned to evaluate different scenarios that simulate the field and wellbores more accurately. Due to its volume (one cubic meter), the device is the largest apparatus in literature, and flexibility, the device enables the replication of a heterogeneous formation. The amount of data and information gathered, make the apparatus unique and provide key elements to drive successful steam injection operations.