Inflow control devices (ICDs) have been extensively used in horizontal wells for conventional oil and gas production in order to prevent early water break through or gas coning. The benefits associated with this technology have been studied with reservoir simulation and validated with field experience. Some of the benefits associated with ICDs that have been described in the literature are: easier well clean out during start up because the ICDs allow application of higher drawdown to poorly performing sections of the reservoir, higher recovery factor caused by delayed water break through or gas coning, uniform production contribution of the horizontal section, and better sand control by limiting the fluid rate per joint.
In theory, similar benefits can be achieved using ICDs in SAGD applications. In this case steam break through instead of gas coning could be prevented. If live steam production is mechanically controlled by the ICDs, bitumen from the colder sections of the production well can be produced by applying a higher drawdown. In this way the total bitumen production should be increased while steam oil ratio (SOR) is reduced. Nevertheless, the available drawdown between SAGD well pairs is very limited and the conventional design approach consisting of uniform flow along the horizontal section is not applicable.
To design an ICD completion trial at the MacKay River SAGD Project, Brion Energy has conducted studies involving theoretical analysis, segmented well simulation, technology evaluation, and equipment selection. The results of these studies indicate that higher cumulative production with lower SOR can be achieved when the ICDs are installed in bitumen production wells where the reservoir exhibits significant heterogeneities. However, the hot spots in the well have to be produced at zero wellbore sub-cool in order to generate a differential pressure capable of bringing colder sections of the well into production. The study also suggests that a further reduction in SOR can be achieved when the ICDs are also installed in the steam injection wells.