Summary

Late in the life of the Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) process, it has become common practice to drill a single, horizontal infill well (called a “Wedge Well™” by some) in the oil bank located between two mature SAGD well pairs to produce the bitumen that has been heated and mobilized but is unable to be effectively drained by gravity given the largely lateral location relative to that of the SAGD producers. Since this oil bank is surrounded by the large, depleted steam chamber created by the existing well pairs, it requires little heat to mobilize bitumen. One of the challenges, however, in producing infill wells is that non-uniform drainage and local hot spots can be readily created in the first year of their operation, that in many cases require completion retrofits, such as with Flow Control Devices (FCDs), to improve the drainage profile. Installation of FCDs in these wells is quite challenging since the dynamics of the infill wells is changing with time and there is limited time to achieve conformance.

To maintain pressure in SAGD chambers the common practice is to inject non-condensable gas (NCG). NCGs, such as methane, which is most common, do not condense in the steam chamber. Some of these NCG can short-cut into the infill through the existing hot-spot. The main reason is that the hot sections of infills are locations that are closer to the SAGD steam chamber, and due to steam condensate encroachment and higher mobility create a pathway for NCG breakthrough. FCDs are designed to promote a more uniform flux distribution along the producer, and exposure to NCG can change the impact of the FCDs. The true hot-spot temperature after NCG injection is decreasing and this can be mistaken as FCD efficiency and steam blocking. In reality, this temperature reduction is due to partial pressure effects associated with NCG encroachment. In this study, a new thermodynamic model is created to explain the NCG encroachment into infill wells, and a new temperature profile along the producer as a function of NCG breakthrough is calculated. The purpose of this work is to create a productivity index (PI) relationship that is fit for purpose for infill wells adjacent to SAGD well-pairs with NCG breakthrough that can primarily be used for analysis and optimization of SAGD FCD completions. This model can also be used to evaluate FCD performance in infill wells pre- and post- NCG breakthrough.

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