Diagnostic Fracture Injection Tests (DFITs) provide a critical piece of information on the competency of the top seal for injection projects and are therefore essential for Subsurface Containment Assurance (SCA) and Maximum Operating Pressure (MOP) determination. Results of DFITs provide the best estimate for the minimum principal stress component, which is a major input for tensile and shear failure tolerance analysis. Therefore, best practices in execution and analysis of DFITs is extremely important for safe and successful operations.

Numerous DFITs have been conducted over the past ten years in Surmont to assess the integrity of the caprock and determine the maximum allowable steam injection pressure. A combination of surveillance and coupled reservoir-geomechanics simulations have been utilized to maintain a minimum of 20% safety factor for caprock failure.

The tangent analysis method for determining fracture closure pressure has been extensively used in the past decade for DFIT analysis in the industry [1 and 2]. The validity of this method has been challenged recently through more rigorous modeling of the hydraulic fracturing process and field observations. An alternative analysis method referred to as the compliance method has been proposed and successfully used in many cases [3].

In the past few years, we have demonstrated the potential to safely increase the maximum operating pressure and its impact on production, through extensive caprock integrity analysis in Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) operations [4 and 5].

In this study, the DFITs carried out in Surmont were revisited to assess the potential impact of characterizing in-situ stresses with improved accuracy on maximum allowable injection pressure and ultimately production uplift. The analysis shows higher minimum horizontal stresses in the caprock are supported by field observations, which could potentially allow for higher injecting pressure and close to five percent additional production in the two selected SAGD pads.

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