Steam-assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) is one of the major thermal recovery methods for heavy oil. Optimization of SAGD is a delicate process that needs to be planned and operated in a detailed manner. Steam trapping is one of the methods that may help optimize production in SAGD by keeping the steam chamber well drained, where liquid does not accumulate on top of the producer and steam is not produced. This is a challenging process even with the advances in well completions with smart or intelligent wells. In this study, the use of smart valves (ICVs) are investigated and their use in optimization of SAGD through steam trapping is outlined.

A comprehensive review on steam trapping, in terms of theory and practice, has been provided. A smart well configuration with intelligent valves are built in a representative reservoir simulation model where the full-physics commercial reservoir simulator is coupled with an optimization/sensitivity software to optimize the processes and investigate the significance of the key control/decision and uncertainty variables. Different approaches are used in steam trap control; static location, dynamic scanning in time and location, and dynamic scanning in time and specified locations. The results are outlined along with practical aspects of the whole process and operation.

The results are outlined in a comparative way to illustrate the benefits of smart valves and the key points in utilizing them, including economic aspects of their use for additional recovery and the related costs. Results indicate that intelligent wells may prove useful in optimizing steam trapping in SAGD operations depending on the size of the prize.

There are several studies on steam trapping. However, there aren't many studies that integrate steam trap control with smart wells. This study investigates the theoretical and practical aspects of steam trapping using intelligent wells, along with outlining the key attributes, decision and uncertainty variables in a comparative way in terms of the steam trap control strategies and economics.

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