The Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, located in the southern part of the Eastern Basin of Venezuela, is considered the largest deposit of heavy oil in the world. It covers an area of 14 million acres and is characterized by having crude of low API gravity (from 7 to 10º), high viscosity (from 1,000 to 10,000 cp), high porosities (from 18 to 40%) and permeabilities that can reach 30 darcies. Heterogeneity is present in the Faja, there some areas with active bottom aquifers. On these particular areas an early water breakthrough has been identified in some horizontal wells.
A numerical simulation model with representative properties of an area of the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt was defined to assess if the implementation of inflow control devices (ICDs) could reduce water production in horizontal wells. The numerical model contained a horizontal well where these completions elements were installed. The evaluation was made through a sensitivity analysis in which the configuration of the devices and some rock and fluids properties were changed. Additionally, the effect of the horizontal well length was studied as this parameter is relevant in the design and planning of horizontal wells in the Faja.
The results of this investigation indicated that the use of inflow control devices can be an effective technology to delay water breakthrough in areas where there is an active bottom aquifer with a good understanding of the geological properties and reservoir behavior. On other hand, this study showed how the differential increase in the cumulative oil of the wells decreases progressively as the horizontal well length section increases. An economic model was created to compare the different simulation scenarios.
This research serves as a basis for determining the feasibility of implementing inflow control devices as a water control technology and to obtain valuable information to designing the horizontal section of the wells.