Design and Operational Experience with Horizontal Steam Injectors in Kern River Field, California, USA

Buell, R. S. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Gurton, R. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Sims, J. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Wells, M. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Adnyana, G. P. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Shirdel, M. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Muharam, C. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Gorham, T. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Riege, E. (Chevron North America Exploration and Production) | Dulac, G. B. (Chevron North America Exploration and Production)



A horizontal steam injection pilot project has been underway for the last four years in the Kern River heavy oil field located in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California. This pilot project was designed to address the following four prioritized learning objectives for horizontal steam injection in a mobile heavy oil reservoir, which were:

What is the mechanical reliability and operability of horizontal steam injectors?

Can acceptable steam conformance control along the horizontal section be achieved?

Can steam conformance along the horizontal section be quantified with surveillance?

What is the reservoir response and longer-term operability with horizontal steam injection?

The 12-acre pilot area on the northwest flank of section 24 of the Kern River field was equipped with two horizontal steam injectors and nine vertical producing wells. The pilot area also had 12 vertical temperature observation wells (TOW) to understand steam conformance around each of the injectors and in the far-field reservoir. The TOWs were logged frequently to establish temperature trends. Based upon temperature trends steam identification and saturation logs were also acquired periodically.

Five injector completions of increasing complexity were installed to understand the injectors' mechanical integrity, recovery of flow control devices, performance of isolation packers and fiber optic surveillance systems. A history-matched reservoir simulation model with coupled wellbore hydraulics was used for forecasting throughout the project life to conduct operational sensitivity analysis and to improve reservoir characterization. Fiber optic flow profiling methods were developed in the injectors that were validated with the observation wells and reservoir models. During each workover torque and drag measurements were acquired which were analyzed with both soft and stiff string analysis to understand wellbore mechanical conditions in the horizontal section. After each workover, all available reservoir and workover surveillance data, TOW logs and production and injection well information were used in a multidisciplinary review to understand progress against the four prioritized learning objectives. The performance of offsetting traditional, vertical steamflood developments were also evaluated.