Integrated Primary and Thermal Development of a Large Extraheavy-Oil Field

Kumar, Raushan (Chevron) | Jha, Raman K (QRI) | Rojas, Danny H (Chevron) | Lolley, Christopher (Chevron) | Kumar, Mridul (Chevron)



Extraheavy-oil (XHO) reservoirs in South America represent some of the largest hydrocarbon accumulations (>500 billion bbl) in the world. Primary production (PP) that uses long horizontal wells is a commercially proved technology for XHO reservoirs. The expected ultimate recovery with primary production is generally less than 12% of original oil in place (OOIP), and thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is critical for increasing recovery to 30–60% OOIP. Economic and environmentally viable thermal development of these reservoirs will require the use of horizontal steam injectors. Our results reveal that continuous steam injection (CSI) with a horizontal injector placed vertically above a horizontal producer (CSI-HIHP) is a very effective method for XHO reservoirs, with high peak-oil rate and significantly high recovery. This study, the first of its kind for an XHO reservoir, outlines an integrated work flow to evaluate the production potential of a large XHO greenfield with PP followed by thermal exploitation. The work flow, based on a probabilistic framework [involving design of experiment (DOE), proxy methods, and Monte Carlo simulations], evaluates reservoir performance for the whole life cycle of the field under a range of uncertainties, and quantifies the impact of key parameters affecting the reservoir performance. XHO reservoirs usually have significantly higher pressures than typical conventional heavy-oil reservoirs, where CSI has been applied commercially. Therefore, pressure in these reservoirs must be reduced before CSI can begin. Cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) after the initial stage of PP can be used to accelerate pressure reduction in the reservoir, while providing additional recovery. Our results demonstrate that geological features such as shale baffles have a significant impact on delaying pressure reduction during PP and CSS. Under a broad range of conditions investigated in this study, PP for 1 year followed by CSS for 4 years has been found to be successful in reducing pressure to the target pressure for CSI. High pressure drop in the horizontal steam injector can cause pressure near the toe region of the injector to be lower than the producer pressure. This results in poor steam injection and poor steam-chest development in that region, thus greatly reducing the efficiency of the thermal-recovery process. We quantify pressure drop in a horizontal steam injector and its impact on the thermal performance and suggest a novel well configuration that uses two injectors for every long producer during CSI. The proposed configuration with a sequential development plan can significantly improve economics of the projects. A novel probabilistic work flow for a full-field (FF) development plan (PP, CSS, and CSI) of XHO reservoirs provides robust production forecast during the entire life cycle. The work flow developed and the insights obtained would be very valuable in preparing effective exploitation plans and optimal facility design, a key economic variable in large projects of developing giant XHO reservoirs.