The Emlichheim oilfield is located in North-West-Germany on the Dutch-German border being the Southern downdip part of the Schoonebeek anticline. The field was discovered in 1943 and came on production in 1944. Since production startup, Wintershall operates the field as owner of the concession (90 % share of interest) in a joint venture with Mobil Erdgas-Erdoel GmbH (10 %).

For more than 50 years an average crude oil production of 150,000 tons/yr (1.05 MMstb/yr) has been maintained. Starting with huff ‘n’ puff and hot water flooding in the late 60's, the first steam flood project was implemented in 1981. Further steamflood projects started in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1998 in different areas of the field. Until 1997, only vertical production wells were drilled in the field. Wellbore stability seemed to be a major problem for drilling horizontal wells in the unconsolidated sandstone reservoir at that time.

In 1999 an innovative steamflood project was started with three newly drilled horizontal producers surrounding a vertical steam injector. First results are showing a significant improvement in the performance as compared to the earlier projects and offer new chances for further development of the field. Today, the field could no longer be operated without the steam projects as roughly 95 % of the field production is coming from thermal EOR.

This paper gives a brief overview of the field and its production history, the planning and realization of a current steamflood project using horizontal well technology as well as its performance compared to the earlier projects. It also describes the experience of drilling horizontal wells in the unconsolidated sandstone. A brief outlook to the future field development is given.

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