A Theoretical Analysis of Steam Stimulation
- John C. Martin
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1967
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 411 - 418
- 1967. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 1.8 Formation Damage
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MARTIN, JOHN C., MEMBER AIME, CHEVRON RESEARCH CO., LA HABRA, CALIF.
A theoretical analysis of steam stimulation is presented for single sands. The analysis includes the eject of steam production and most of the effects of heat conduction. The results show the effects of a number of important variables on the performance of an idealized well under steam simulation. Calculated responses are presented which indicate the effects of steam production, amount of steam injected, water production, formation thickness and formation damage. Results indicate that steam production can cause large reductions in the heat contained in the formation. This effect can be eliminated by drawdown control. Water production reduces the amount of oil produced during stimulation. The optimum amount of steam to inject depends on economic factors as well as the well response. In many cases, the increased temperature resulting from stimulation reduces oil viscosity near the well sufficiently to overcome the effects of formation damage even if the damage is not removed during steam injection. Calculated responses for thin sands are more favorable than anticipated.
Little has been published on the theory of steam stimulation despite the interest it has created and the wide variation in well responses. The results of the present analysis provide an insight into steam stimulation, and the methods employed provide a foundation for future work. Analyses presented in Refs. 1 and 2 are very limited and apply to gravity drainage conditions. Ref. 3 contains an analysis similar to the one presented here. The idealized models used and the assumptions made in Ref. 3 are different from those used in this paper. The analysis assumes that after steam injection has heated a small portion of the volume within the radius of drainage of a single uniform sand, a shut-in soaking period is allowed before returning the well to production. The effects of gravity, capillarity, transient pressure and water-sensitive sands are neglected. The injection and soaking times are assumed short compared to the stimulated production time. The initial temperature is assumed uniform; thus, the results apply primarily to first-cycle stimulation. The effects of gas production other than steam are neglected, and the water-oil ratio during production is assumed constant. Steam stimulation involves the simultaneous variation of the temperature, pressure and saturations. General mathematical equations for these variations are complicated and can be very difficult to solve. Simplified equations based on idealized models are used to reduce the mathematics sufficiently to allow approximate solutions to be obtained.
An idealized model for which heat conduction is neglected is used to represent the behavior of a well during steam injection. The mathematics for this model is presented in Appendix A which also contains an approximate solution for the behavior of the no-conduction model.
During soaking, the well is shut in. Only the temperature, pressure and saturation distributions at the end of soaking are needed in the analysis. During soaking the heat is considered to be conducted in a uniform medium from an initially uniformly heated circular cylinder confined to the producing interval. At the end of soaking the saturations and pressures are assumed to correspond to the cold zone. Analysis of the heat flow during soaking is included in the next section. The radius of the heated cylinder is calculated from the following heat balance (for constant quality steam injection).
At the end of the soaking period it is assumed that little or no free gas is present near the well, and that the soaking period has been sufficiently long that the steam zone has had time to expand and the steam has condensed. The condition where there is no soaking is considered in the next section.
In this section, an approximate method is presented for solving the equations of heat and fluid flow associated with the production of oil and water during steam stimulation. Where initial pressure drawdowns are sufficient to cause steam to flow into the wellbore, steam production is assumed to occur within a short initial adjustment period (Appendix B). The production practices followed soon after the well is returned to production can have a large influence on the amount of oil produced during the stimulation cycle. Under most conditions, there is a period of time in which some or all of the water in the heated zone is converted into steam and produced.
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