In spite of its relative youthfulness as a commercial IOR technology, SAGD has had a profound impact on the development of the oil sands in northern Alberta and consequently on Alberta's economy. The path from a concept as articulated and developed by an individual research engineer, Roger Butler, to a commercial recovery technology for exploiting Alberta's oil sands has at times been a rocky one. More than 30 years of applied research and development at both the laboratory scale and the field scale by a community of researchers has been necessary to advance the technology to its current state of development. The SAGD technology has faced countless challenges since its origin. The public literature is replete with examples of challenges it has faced in the past, and others that are predicted to be just over the horizon. For example, more research and development will be required to expand SAGD to more challenging areas of the Athabasca region. The challenges will include reservoirs that have shale barriers, those that have bottom/top water zones, and those that are marginally too thin for conventional SAGD. Variants of SAGD, such as fast-SAGD, X-SAGD, and ES-SAGD, were conceived in response to the need to expand SAGD beyond the sweet spots in Alberta's oil sands where the original technology was demonstrated. Lessons learned from the application of SAGD technology in Alberta's oil sands may be useful to international producers from around the world that are interested in trying to adopt SAGD for use in their reservoirs. This paper will discuss potential challenges that may be encountered in the implementation of SAGD as the technology is migrated from its birthplace in the Athabasca oil sands to heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs around the world.

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