Suplacu de Barcau, a heavy oil field in Romania with more than 2,700 wells and over 50 years of air injection history, is considered one of the world's largest in-situ combustion projects. This paper describes a 3D simulation study of a sector of the field. The sector chosen spans the entire history of the field, from a short period of cold production in the early 1960s to the current production method of cyclic steam stimulation followed by air injection. To date, about 200 wells have been drilled in this sector, which covers approximately 1.1 km2.

We present the different stages of the numerical study and review some of the difficulties involved in modeling in-situ combustion in a large model. We describe how we managed the uncertainties in the reservoir and in the fluid description, and how we overcame limitations in the available data. Kinematic data from laboratory experiments were used as a starting point, and we present details of the simplified kinematic formulation that was needed to improve the numerical performance of the simulation model.

The model is heterogeneous, so there is an uneven propagation of the combustion front. We compare historical production rates with the model predictions and estimate areas of oil that were bypassed due to this heterogeneity and to gravity override.

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