Steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) enjoys great advantages in the development of extra heavy oil reservoir such as high oil rate and favarable oil steam ratio. However, there are also disadvantages, such as intensive energy consumption, produced water recycle and disposal, that have impacts on the economics of SAGD projects. Furthermore, oil steam ratio declines and water cut rises when the SAGD comes into its later stage while great residual oil existing in the wedge zone. This paper proposes a new method, turning to in situ combustion (ISC) in the later SAGD, to improve the performance of the later SAGD. The feasibility and performance are both studied systematically. Firstly, a numerical model is established on the basis of reservoir and fluid parameters from a block in Xinjiang oil field, China, and then the performance characteristics in different stages of SAGD in extra heavy oil are studied. Particularly, characteristics of performance, features of temperature, pressure, steam chamber, distribution of residual oil in the later SAGD in extra heavy oil reservoir are deeply characterized. Combining these features and using physical simulation method, the feasibility of ISC in later SAGD in extra heavy oil reservoir has been discussed in terms of the effects of the oxidation kinetics characteristics, the thermal connectivity, the fuel supply, the coke deposit and the combustion front shape of extra heavy oil. Furthermore, the time when or before the steam chamber spreads to the edge of the SAGD well pair pattern is determined to be the optimum time to turn to ISC for the typical reservoir. By adding vertical wells for air injection in the middle of SAGD well pairs is the appropriate well pattern for ISC in the later SAGD. And perforating in the middle and lower interval is demonstrated to be the better method to control injection and production. Four stages in the process of ISC performance are determined and dissected. The study results indicate that stable combustion front shape and high production rate can be achieved after turning to ISC. Another 50.7% of the OOIP can be obtained in the ISC stage, regardless of 30% oil recovery in the SAGD stage.

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