The efficiency of a SAGD operation depends on developing a uniform steam chamber and maintaining an optimal subcool along the length of the well pair. Heterogeneity in reservoir properties may lead to suboptimal subcool levels. Recently, Model Predictive Control (MPC) based on the real-time production, temperature, and pressure data along with other well and surface constraint information has been proposed for a real-time feedback control of SAGD well pairs. Reservoir dynamics in MPC is represented using either linear step response model or one-dimensional ordinary differential equation. However, such simplified models are insufficient in MPC since SAGD is more complex and highly nonlinear process. Therefore, MPC framework that represents nonlinear behaviour of SAGD over an extended control period is required to achieve optimized subcool and steam conformance.

In this research, two novel workflows are proposed to handle nonlinear reservoir dynamics in MPC. First approach known as Adaptive MPC includes recursive estimations at each control interval based on system identification theory. This allows evolution of the coefficients of a fixed model structure such that the updated system identification model in MPC controller reflects current reservoir dynamics adequately. Another approach, Gain-Scheduled MPC, decomposes the subcool control problem in a parallel manner and uses a bank of multiple controllers rather than only one controller. This ensures effective control of the nonlinear reservoir system even in adverse control situations by employing aggressive variations in input parameters.

Suggested workflows are implemented using history-matched numerical model of a reservoir located in northern Alberta. Steam injection rates and liquid production rate are considered as input variables in MPC, constrained to available surface facilities. Well-pair is divided into multiple sections and subcool of each section is considered as an output variable. Optimum set-point for subcool is considered as 20°C. Results are compared with actual field data (in which no control algorithm is used) and analyzed based on two criteria: 1) Do all subcools track optimum set-point while maintaining stability in input variables and 2) Does net present value (NPV) of oil improve in case of Adaptive and Gain-Scheduled MPC? In general, we conclude that both Adaptive and Gain-Scheduled MPC provide superior tracking of subcool set-point and hence better steam conformance due to adequate representation of reservoir dynamics by recursive estimation of coefficients and multiple controllers. In addition, results indicate stability in input parameters and improvement in economic performance. NPV is improved by 23.69% and 10.36% in case of Adaptive and Gain-Scheduled MPC, respectively.

Under current economic scenario, proposed workflows can improve the NPV of a SAGD reservoir by optimizing the well operational parameters while considering constraints of surface facilities and minimizing environmental footprints.

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