Technology Summary – November 2014


Mathematical equations and numerical models are developed in the petroleum industry to describe certain physical phenomena such that they can be used to predict the outcome in various conditions. However, experiments are needed to generate the correlation equations and to validate the mathematical models to give us the confidence of applying these equations and models.

In the first paper of this issue, Kariznovi, Nourozieh, and Abedi developed a mathematical model based on their measurements of the density and viscosity of Athabasca bitumen at various pressures and temperatures. Most past studies usually focussed on the effect of temperature on the bitumen properties and neglected the influence of pressure, and the maximum temperature from these experiments was approximately 130°C. This paper covers a wider range and the data will be useful for the design of thermal and solvent-based recovery processes.

Abram and Cain, in the second paper of this issue, described in detail an innovative particle-size-distribution (PSD) classification process that can be used as a reservoir-characterization- supporting tool. Operators may apply this methodology to assist them on the horizontal well placement and liner-technology selection for their assets.

The third paper deals with fluid flow in the annulus in drilling operations. A numerical model was developed by Hashemian, Yu, Miska, Ahmed, and Shirazi to investigate the velocity profiles and frictional pressure losses of yield-power-aw (YPL) fluids (e.g., polymer-based and bentonite fluids) in eccentric annuli for Newtonian and non-Newtonian flow. Validated by experimental data, this model can be applied to better predict certain fluid transport properties during drilling and cementing.

In drilling operations, materials (e.g., barite) are commonly used to increase the weight of the drilling mud. Settlement of these weighting material particles, called barite sag, can cost lost circulation, well-control difficulties, poor cement jobs, and stuck pipes. In the final paper of this issue, authors Hashemian, Miska, Yu, Ozbayyoglu, Takach, and McLaury conducted experiments to investigate the impact of several drilling parameters on the barite sag in the annulus and developed a numerical model that showed good agreement with the experimental results. This can help drilling engineers to design programs to reduce the risk caused by barite sag.

K.C. Yeung, M.Sc., P. Eng.

Issue Coordinator

About the Issue Coordinator

KC Yeung is Director, Technology Development and Innovation at Brion Energy in Calgary, Alberta. He has worked in the heavy-oil industry for more than 37 years, primarily in the area of reservoir development. Yeung has been involved in various in-situ field projects, including cyclic steam stimulation, steamflood, in-situ combustion, cold heavy-oil production with sand, and SAGD. Yeung was a Distinguished Lecturer for the Petroleum Society of CIM. He has given lectures and training courses on heavy-oil recovery and SAGD in Canada, the United States, China, South America, and the Middle East to promote Canada’s in-situ heavy-oil technology. Yeung was also a member of the evaluation committee on the SPE Reprint Series No. 61, Heavy Oil Recovery. He holds BSc (with distinction) and MSc degrees in mechanical engineering, both from the University of Hawaii. Yeung was the 2005–2006 president of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association and the 2007 chairman of the Petroleum Society of CIM. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Petroleum Society of Canada in 2009 and the SPE Regional Services Award from SPE Canada in 2011.

Paper Summaries

Bitumen Properties

Measurement and Correlation of Viscosity and Density for Compressed Athabasca Bitumen at Temperatures Up to 200°C reports the experimental data on the viscosity and density of raw Athabasca bitumen at temperatures varying from ambient temperature up to 200°C and at pressures up to 10 MPa. A description of the thermophysical properties of Athabasca bitumen is discussed and new approaches for their modelling are proposed. The experimental data and developed models are prerequisite for the design of any solvent- and thermal-based recovery processes for bitumen and heavy oil because the bitumen recovery processes intend mainly to reduce the oil viscosity at reservoir.

Sand Analysis

Particle-Size Analysis for the Pike 1 Project, McMurray Formation explores the PSD of the highly variable and complex middle McMurray reservoir sands. Devon has employed the use of advanced statistical algorithms and techniques to classify the PSD histograms for sand-control-testing objectives, geological interpretations, and permeability mapping. Using an unsupervised hierarchical classification technique, all of the PSD histograms from within the bitumen pay zone were classified based on histogram similarity. This analysis resulted in the creation of four distinct sand classes, termed sandprints. Select intervals of unconsolidated reservoir sand identified to match each of the sand-class histograms was then extracted from core and cleaned to create a repeatable baseline for sand-control testing in the laboratory. This classification approach has additional benefits in geological and geomodelling workflows, and has fundamentally enhanced the way Devon uses grain-size information.  

Drillpipe Annular Flow

Accurate Predictions of Velocity Profiles and Frictional Pressure Losses in Annular YPL-Fluid Flow discusses the effects of fluid rheology, flow rate, annulus dimensions, and eccentricity on velocity profile and frictional pressure losses in annulus. Axial flow of YPL fluids in eccentric annuli for a 2D steady-state flow is investigated numerically and verified against experiments. A boundary-fitted coordinate system is used to discretize the flow equations and generate the mesh network. Fluid-flow equations are solved adopting an iterative method. Numerical results are compared with the available extensive experimental investigations on the flow of variety of drilling fluids that have a strong shear-thinning property and high yield stress (e.g., polymer-based and bentonite fluids).

Experimental Study and Modelling of Barite Sag in Annular Flow discusses the effects of various drilling parameters (e.g., inclination angle, drill pipe eccentricity in annulus, drill-pipe rotation, and fluid velocity on barite sag in annulus). Experimental study using a flow loop is conducted to investigate the effects of drilling parameters on barite sag. Density of the flowing fluid is measured continuously using coriolis densitometers at the inlet and outlet of the annular test section. The numerical simulation of the study predicts the travelling paths of the barite particles. The numerical simulation is modified from laboratory scale to real wellbore dimensions to be used for practical drilling applications. Comparing the results of numerical simulation to the experimental study shows a good agreement.