ExxonMobil and its affiliate Imperial Oil Resources are currently operating a Solvent-Assisted Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SA-SAGD) experimental pilot plant at Cold Lake, Canada. During pilot operation, up to 20 percent by volume of a light hydrocarbon solvent will be injected with dry steam in a dual horizontal well SAGD configuration. The pilot scope consists of two horizontal well pairs (four wells total), six observation wells, associated steam and solvent injection facilities, artificial lift, and dedicated production measurement and testing facilities.
Previous experimental and computer modeling work completed by the Alberta Research Council (ARC) (Nasr, 2003), Imperial Oil Resources, and ExxonMobil indicates that the addition of solvent to the dry steam increases bitumen production rates and decreases the steam oil ratio (SOR) relative to conventional SAGD processes. A key objective of this pilot is to safely collect high-quality field data to support these findings and quantify process improvement.
This paper will focus on the pilot design approach taken to ensure that the multi-year pilot is successful as well as highlight early pilot performance and operation. Specific design aspects which will be discussed include the choice for the pilot location, the use of detailed geologic models to design and place the horizontal wells, and solvent measurements. Early field results are consistent with expectations. However, longer term operation is required to make a more quantitative assessment. In addition, the pilot operation has demonstrated excellent control of injection pressure, which is critical to the application of this technology in settings with bottom water or top gas.