Drilling the horizontal wells was the beginning of unlocking the enormous potential of Western Canada oil-sands. However, several technical and operational challenges avoid the so-called extended reach Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) wells. The last few years drive to reduce Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) encouraged the development of key innovative tools to make long thermal wells a reality. SAGD pad development using maximum possible well-length has taken significant leaps in economical assessment of SAGD projects. The goal of this paper is investigating the impact of Flow Control Devices (FCDs) on the overall performance of the long wells in SAGD projects.
In this paper, seven major thermal projects in Western Canada were investigated. Production history of all the wells is normalized by the variation of the geological condition, operational parameters, and well length. Following a convention in the industry, the wells with lateral length longer than 850 meters are labeled as "long" and those shorter than 850 meters are labeled as "short". Eventually, normalized oil production by long wells completed or retrofitted with FCDs is compared with those without FCDs to supply insight on the role of completion design on relative performance of drilling long wells. The comparison has been conducted with respect to different completion types such as Liner or Tubing Deployed FCDs (LDFCD or TDFCDs).
On average, long wells produced 2% more normalized oil compared to short wells for all projects, while they produced on average 16% more normalized oil in the projects 1, 2, 6, and 7 in which long wells successfully drilled. The historical production performances show that FCDs are the key enablers and innovative strategy to drill longer wells. For successful long wells with FCDs, the normalized oil production is improved as high as 81%, and the improvement rate is 108% and 10% for LD and TD FCDs, respectively. Furthermore, the completion strategy of combining long wells with FCDs improved the normalized oil production about 33% compared to short wells. This study shows that switching from short wells to long wells in SAGD projects and completing them with FCDs is a synergic approach to increase the oil production (33%).
The results of this paper confirmed that drilling long wells with FCDs is a win-win strategy resulted in more oil production compared to long/ short wells without FCDs; since CAPEX is reduced by long wells and oil production is increased by FCDs. The results also help completion and production engineers to get a better understanding of the contribution of FCDs in long lateral wells.