As development activities in heavy oil and in situ bitumen deposits have accelerated, the challenge of forecasting the performance of in situ recovery processes at field scale has increased exponentially.

Delineation drilling results make it apparent that these deposits are highly complex and three-dimensionally heterogeneous. Heterogeneity has a significant impact on the effectiveness and economics of the recovery process.

Many experienced operators are recognizing that in addition to the static complexity of the reservoirs it is necessary to consider the dynamic stress state in the regions undergoing production. Geomechanical factors are significant and must be built into any realistic numerical simulation of recovery processes.

It has become apparent to operators that modeling single well-pair operations may be misleading, and seven to ten well-pair models are now quite common.

All these factors result in increasing size and complexity of numerical simulation models.

Reservoir simulator developers have responded with two technologies to achieve reasonable run times in these large and complex models. The combined use of 64-bit symmetrical multiprocessor computers and dynamic grid refinement will be discussed and compared against traditional simulation methods.

This paper will provide examples of the application of these leading edge technologies for in situ oil sands development in the Surmont area of the Athabasca deposit.

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