Abstract

Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is the method of choice to extract bitumen from Athabasca oil sand reservoirs in Western Canada. Bitumen at reservoir condition is immobile due to high viscosity and its saturation is typically large that limits the injectivity of a steam at in-situ condition. In a current industry practice, steam is circulated within injection and production wells. In theory wells, should be converted to SAGD production mode once bitumen at interval is mobile and communication is established between the injector and the producer. Operators try to use temperature fall-off data to predict successful conversion time. Although the bitumen heating sounds simple approach recently three wells fails after steam injection due to steam break-through or sand production. And they are periodically returned to circulation to ramp up production rates and heal the hot spots. Most such failures are associated with early conversion to full SAGD. This paper presents a method to describe physics based initial steam injection timing and describes different Suncor assets viscosity variation with temperature and a proper interval temperature for initiation of steam injection in SAGD process. In this study an analytical tool is developed using time-of-flight (ToF) concept to match the temperature fall-off data. The tool is used to discuss successful and failed cases in Suncor McKay River asset.

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