For ConocoPhillips, technology is a key driver and development accelerator to continuously improve its SAGD operations. The deployment of conventional Flow Control Device (FCD) technology in Surmont has allowed ConocoPhillips to realize shorter circulation times and higher oil production rates. These benefits have been realized while ensuring liner and well integrity.

Optimizing the well start-up process in SAGD has been a challenge at Surmont and in the industry in general. SAGD well start-up involves heating bitumen through a mostly conductive process to allow the SAGD mechanism to initiate. A recent breakthrough in the circulation strategy for wells equipped with FCDs at Surmont was developed and implemented by the ConocoPhillips Technology and Operation teams. This new approach has been possible by integrating FCD characterization and erosion testing with complex engineering principles such as convective heating, sand control, reservoir multiphase flow and wellbore flow dynamics. ConocoPhillips commenced the implementation of the new strategy in the field between 2015 and 2016 with great success. Benefits of this circulation strategy by fully utilizing the FCD technology are numerous, including a reduction of circulation duration, substantial increase in early time oil and liquid production and accelerated well ramp-up.

The paper begins by presenting the concept of this new circulation strategy. Then, details on various SAGD mechanisms and associated FCD physics are explained. Finally, field data is presented to illustrate the successful implementation of this strategy along with an analysis of the operating results.

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