At the State Oil Company of Suriname, S.A., as oil reservoirs mature, increased water production is inevitable. Decline rates > 50% are common after water breakthrough. Significant reserves are bypassed when production watercuts exceeded 98% owing to limited artificial lift, transportation and /or processing capability.
Despite the limited successes in reducing the water production, in most cases, oil production is also reduced.
Similar to the concept of Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand (CHOPS), where the strategy changed from Sand Control to Sand Production and Management, ESP technology is now used to maximize the fluid extraction rates in high watercut artificially lifted wells to achieve the required economical oil production rates. The realized Subsurface water disposal costs are much less than equivalent surface disposal costs.
In a 3-well ESP pilot, oil production rates increased from average 30 BOPD, 94% water on PCP to sustained 65 – 140 BOPD, 97% water on ESP (after 20 months). Additionally, in a remote field where all produced fluids were transported daily via barges to the nearest processing facility, subsurface produced water disposal reduced transportation costs by more than 25%, simultaneously creating additional storage capacity for increased oil production.
Neither ESP nor Subsurface Disposal technology is new. The paradigm change is that, at the planning stage, proactively designing completions, artificial lift equipment, processing facilities, and disposal well locations for the inevitable increase in water production, will minimize oil production decline as water production increases. The historically proven low economic success rate (<30%) of water control techniques together with the excellent success rate of high-rate high-watercut wells, clearly indicates that the oil industry needs to quickly shift (not abandon) from the water control to water management mode to economically recover the millions of bypassed reserves due to high water production after water breakthrough.