Flow control devices (FCDs) have demonstrated significant potential in improving recovery from Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) production wells. Passive FCDs will allow the SAGD producer well to create additional pressure drop to balance the production influx, improving overall conformance and promoting accelerated hydrocarbon production. However, passive FCDs cannot effectively restrict steam effluents once steam breakthrough at the production well occurs.

The Autonomous Inflow Control Valve (AICV) actively delivers a dynamic flow restriction with the ability to choke and/or ‘shut-off’ in response to the associated viscosity and density of the fluids flowing through the AICV. This novel AICV design behaves truly autonomously based on the Hagen-Poiseuille equation and Bernoulli’s principle. The AICV utilizes the differences in flow behaviour between the laminar and turbulent flow restrictions to differentiate the pressure-drops between oil, water, gas, and steam phases.

A collaborative effort has been initiated between the AICV vendor and the Computer Modelling Group to develop reservoir simulation workflows with the AICV that will allow the user to enter characteristic performance curves for a variety of SAGD and thermal fields. The development of mechanistic wellbore modelling and developed methodology to incorporate the associated complexities of AICV behaviour has shown to be an improvement to the way FCDs are currently modelled, providing insight into the potential for AICV application in SAGD and other thermal recovery operations. Such techniques allow the reservoir simulation tools to perform realistic predictions of the AICV behaviour at downhole conditions and evaluate scenarios and relative impacts of completion designs.

The development of a new characterization method of AICV performance in SAGD applications, and its implementation in reservoir simulation tools, has helped to unveil the benefits of implementing AICVs in improving recovery from SAGD operations.

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