Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) is a widely used thermal recovery method for heavy oil and bitumen. S-13832 reservoir in Liaohe oil field in China is reaching economical limit after several cycles of cyclic steam stimulation (CSS). To improve the recovery, toe-to-heel air injection (THAI) had been field tested, however with unfavorable results. In this study, we analyze the alternative SAGD process and show it as most promising follow-up for CSS in S1-3832 reservoir.

We first conduct comprehensive summary of reasons for the previous THAI trial failure, including lack of knowledge for shale layer distributions, difficulties in control spreading of combustion front and blockage of wellbore. Then, numerical simulation has been performed to investigate the feasibility and advantage of using SAGD process in S1-3832. A fine-grid reservoir model with shale layers carefully characterized for reservoir heterogeneity and oil-water distributions modeled. Finally, history match of the field is carried out and dominant influencing factors for SAGD recovery were determined in order to establish an optimum reservoir development strategy.

Vertical injector-horizontal producer and vertical injector-vertical producer hybrid well configuration is adopted in the type pattern simulation model. Key parameters such as perforation locations, steam quality, production-injection ratio, injection rate and SAGD transition time are optimized. It is observed that steam chamber shape is irregular due to the presence of shale layers in some locations. Based on shale layer characteristics of the reservoir, perforation positions together with injection and production rates are adjusted to improve the conformance in these areas. According to these findings, a practical development strategy is designed. Ultimately, the simulation results show the production rate, accumulative oil-steam ratio and other indicators satisfy the requirement of economic development, with incremental recovery factor of 39%in the SAGD stage.

The optimum development plan has been successfully implemented for more than 1 year now, with monitored temperature showing steam chamber growth in favorable manner in the entire reservoir, even in area above shale barriers. With thermal communication achieved, production rate increases progressively, indicating a smooth transition to SAGD mode. This work has demonstrated SAGD as effective recovery process in S1-3832. It also provides technical guidance for designing follow-up processes to CSS for similar reservoirs.

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