Oil Sands Operators and Vendors “Pull Back the Curtain” on Well Completions
OSLI operators and service vendors joined forces during a May 24 workshop to identify key mechanisms required to improve the completion design and performance of Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) wells.
Bringing operators and vendors together to solve industry issues is an extension of the collaborative culture OSLI has developed, Doug James, of Energy Futures Network which supports OSLI's Technology Breakthrough Working Group (TBWG), told the workshop's opening session.
"Within OSLI we've learned to share information about our problems because if one company is having a problem, typically other companies are in the same situation. Fundamentally we want to reach out to the vendor community with the same kind of sharing."
About 45 representatives from OSLI companies and 35 from service vendors exchanged information and worked toward developing solutions during the day-long event at the Nexen +15 Annex Conference Centre, which was organized by the TBWG's Alternative Well Configuration (AWC) group.
"We will only make progress if both companies and vendors pull back the curtain and share information. Together we need to push the boundaries of technology to rapidly advance the application of SAGD Flow Distribution Control (FDC)," James said.
The workshop focused on completion improvements that would allow for greater FDC of steam injected into and bitumen produced from in situ operations. Improvements will accelerate the bitumen production rate and reduce the steam-oil ratio (SOR), the leading performance indicators for SAGD operations.
At the beginning of the workshop, John Stalder, chair of the AWC group and Principle Technical Advisor, Technology and Optimization at ConocoPhillips, presented the technical paper SPE 153706: "Test of SAGD Flow Distribution Control Liner System, Surmont Field, Alberta, Canada." The Surmont test involved using FDC liners employing the Baker Oil Tool Equalizer™ technology in both the steam injection well and producer well.
This test demonstrated significant rate and efficiency benefits due to the liner system and has suggested the potential for developing a "steam trap control" Inflow Control Device (ICD) for SAGD producers. Stalder issued a challenge to attendees to develop a steam trap control ICD for SAGD, which would significantly improve SAGD well design.
Although the FDC liner resulted in increased bitumen production and reduced SOR, Stalder said, "we realized this was only a drop in the bucket compared to the potential advances this technology could
"With this technology, we believe we could use smaller liners, even 5 1/2 inch, and intermediate casing, resulting in less liner drag and increased flexibility so we could have more flexible well trajectories. This would allow for longer completions, more wells per pad, less steel in the ground, and reduce the size of our footprint."
But more work is needed to advance SAGD completion and liner technology in both injector and producer wells.
"I hope this test at Surmont grabs everyone's attention and more companies become interested in trying out this and other liner systems. In order to justify large-scale completion changes, the industry has to get an idea of how robust these FDC completions are over the long term."
He pointed out that over the past 100 years step changes in technology, such as rotary drilling, waterflooding, hydraulic fracturing, offshore technology and horizontal drilling have resulted in exponential production increases. Improved FDC could also result in a step change for SAGD operations.
"We share our results with the notion that if the whole industry moves ahead then we will move ahead as well," Stalder said.
To further set the stage, Dullio Raffa, of Suncor, presented the common experience of the OSLI companies regarding the use of FDC devices, and the understanding that has resulted from sharing these experiences. This was followed by eight presentations from companies providing FDC and control products to the oil sands industry.
The participants then explored key issues confronting SAGD operations including flow distribution, sand control, monitoring and instrumentation to identify common experiences, key challenges and opportunities, and immediate actions that could be taken by the community of operators and vendors working together to more rapidly find viable solutions and implement them.
The workshop was well attended, with strong participation by both OSLI companies and the vendor community.
"We expect that the dialogue will continue among the vendors and operating companies, and that specific projects will arise from the work begun today," said Stalder. "OSLI can make this happen because we're open to taking brain flashes and new ideas and putting them in the ground to accelerate commercial application of new ideas."