Offshore production of heavy oil can be challenging due largely to adverse fluid properties, sand production and flow assurance concerns. Recent technology advancements effectively driving management of these challenges and government support through tax relief have significantly contributed to the increased appraisal activity over the last several years in the North Sea heavy oil fields. Application of appropriate technologies and techniques has always been of paramount importance for acquiring high quality information throughout welltest for reservoir characterization at appraisal stage of the fields. It also provides high level of confidence in technology and"proof of concept" prior to further application in a full field development at investment intensive offshore operating environment.

This paper describes an integrated approach in analytical modeling and design developed and applied in the planning of flow test in a number of North Sea heavy oil fields. This includes a comprehensive pre-evaluation of well productivity, PVT properties modeling as well as design and selection of appropriate artificial lift method. A series of technical solutions considered relevant in relation to enhancing the low flowing well head temperature conditions, typically observed during the cold heavy oil production offshore and often leading to operational constraints on fluid handling capabilities is also discussed. Additionally, a probablistic approach considering base case, low and high case scenarios has been developed and implemented as part of the evaluation process, given the limited amount of available information and high level of uncertainties.

The study demonstrates the benefits of applying analytical techniques for uncertainties handling during flow test planning and thereby enabling accentuation of potential issues, properly planning for mitigation actions and predicting the entire flow test sequence. Finally the study underlines some important guidelines pertaining to planning for further appraisal and development of new heavy oil fields.

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