Artificial lift design for heavy oil systems is a continual changing process in which evolving technological advancements coupled with constant learning experience has led to production capabilities that were not feasible in the past. There has been an increase in installation of temperature tolerant Electric Submersible pumps (ESP) with the primary aim of improving deliverability from mature heavy oil fields. Similarly, in the heavy oil industry, the desire to attain energy efficiency has birthed variations of the Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) process that use solvent additives in further reducing bitumen viscosity. The heavy oil emulsion formed in these systems exhibit rheological characteristics and outflow behaviors different to conventional SAGD systems. Tubing hydraulic performance, steam trap requirements and flow assurance behaviors associated with production from these systems are investigated in this work.

This paper presents dynamic multiphase simulations detailing fluid flow regimes, mass and heat transfer mechanisms and pressure/temperature changes as the reservoir fluid flows out of the reservoir, through an ESP and up the production tubing to the surface. The reservoir is a 3D fully coupled reservoir/wellbore model with properties similar to the Athabasca bitumen reservoir. The simulation was conducted considering all periods in the lifecycle of production i.e. pre and post ramp up. This research finds that a detailed understanding of fluid phase behavior and reservoir operating parameters during the different periods can dramatically improve operating efficiency and impact on ESP design.

Furthermore, results generated from this research can be used as a yardstick for SAGD production engineers in designing artificial lift systems for solvent assisted processes

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.