Flow Control Devices (FCDs) are known to enhance efficiency of oil production, overall project economics and environmental performance that is currently of particular importance for Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) operators in Western Canada. FCDs have been utilized in SAGD wells over a decade, primarily, as liner deployed (LD) applications. Compared to LD FCDs, tubing deployed (TD) FCDs for SAGD producers are less common and require better understanding from the standpoint of completion design and operational strategy.
A study has been conducted on TD FCD installations in producer wells in the Surmont SAGD project. The study was aimed to understand failure modes and causes for several failed SAGD producers retrofitted with TD FCDs. Due considerations were given to key factors such as geology, runtime, operational practices and the possibility of failure of the slotted liner. Caliper log, fiber optics and downhole imaging data were used in the study. FCD strings pulled from the ground have been also analyzed.
All failures were found to be erosive wear with localized full wall loss of the TD FCD base pipe. No detectable erosion or other damage to FCDs are observed. As a general practice, a less aggressive operation strategy for wells with TD FCD compared to wells with LD FCDs was implemented after the study to avoid new failures. Proper screen sizing for TD FCD retrofits in slotted liner wells was identified as an important factor to provide effective sand control and may help reduce failures, but screen sizing was found not to have a direct effect on the failures investigated. The study shows that TD FCD retrofits have proven to be successful; however, special considerations are required when designing TD FCDs installations for SAGD producers, compared to LD FCDs, in order to reduce risk of erosive damage and failure.