Over the past few years, an increasing number of operators in steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) in situ recovery of bitumen in the Alberta Oil Sands are becoming interested in the use of flow control devices (FCDs). Initial field trials by some operators of these devices have shown promise in improving steam chamber conformance, reducing incidences of steam breakthrough, high vapour production, and in addressing liner reliability concerns related to steam jetting.
While the application of FCDs is well-established in the conventional oil and gas industry to control gas and water coning, there are still a number of questions on how to implement FCDs optimally in SAGD. One major difference in the application of FCDs in SAGD compared to the conventional oil and gas industry is the high temperature environment with steam and elevated erosion risk.
The purpose of this paper is to present some practical considerations for the selection of FCDs and optimal completion FCD design for SAGD applications. In the first section, a discussion is presented on how to compare the performance of different flow control devices. Most devices have not been tested for SAGD, and there is a need for more comprehensive testing. The focus of the second section is on practical considerations for the installation of FCDs in a SAGD injection and production wells.