In heavy oilfield development, optimal flow rates usually directly correlate to reservoir exposure. In the case of heavy-oil development, reservoir exposure will play an even greater role because of the inherent flow-resistant characteristics of this type of hydrocarbon. For this reason, heavy oil completions have not been exploited fully. However, by implementing horizontal drilling and the state-of-the-art completion methods now available, heavy oil fields are now being revitalized.

By employing multilateral technology (MLT), the benefits of horizontal drilling and state-of-the-art completion practices can be magnified still further. A drastic increase in the reservoir exposure from a single surface location can be strategically placed within the reservoir using multiple horizontal laterals. This development strategy reduces the number of surface locations and facilities, subsequently decreasing the overall field development costs. The added benefits are accelerated production and enhanced oil recovery, which increase the net present value of the asset.

In multilateral implementation, the reservoir characteristics will always dictate the lateral window placement relative to the reservoir body along with the type of lateral interface with the parent bore. There are various types of lateral interfaces with the parent bore, which have been classified by the Technology Advancement of Multi-Lateral (TAML) Organization.

This paper will review various heavy-oil multilateral applications and will include window construction and the integration of lateral completion strategies such as openhole liners and gravel-pack applications. It will also focus on other multilateral issues such as lateral accessibility and isolation techniques, remedial options, and guidelines for selecting a "fit-for-purpose" lateral window system.

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