Optimization of a Vertical-Horizontal Heavy Oil Thermal Operation by using Automated Field-scale Control

Bao, Yu (University of Calgary) | Wang, Jing Yi Jacky (University of Calgary) | Gates, Ian Donald (University of Calgary)


Given its water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, it is critical to optimize the steam injection strategy and steam conformance in steam-based oil sands recovery processes such as cyclic steam stimulation and steam-assisted gravity drainage to minimize the steam-to-oil ratio and maximize the cumulative oil volume produced. Given the heterogeneity of oil sands reservoirs, robust adaptive oil sands processes which respond to the system to continuously shift the operation towards desired operational objectives are desired. This kind of adaptive control can be achieved by proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control. PID automated control is a relatively simple method to control well operations in thermal processes by using observed data already measured in existing steam-based recovery processes. Here, a vertical-horizontal hybrid well configuration within an oil sands reservoir, with reservoir properties previously tuned by a history-match to field data, is operated under PID control to demonstrate that automated control can yield improvements of recovery process performance. Here, the well configuration consists of multiple vertical injectors and a few horizontal producers - early in the process, cyclic steam stimulation is initially done in the vertical wells to establish thermal communication within the reservoir. After sufficient communication is accomplished, the steam is injected into the vertical wells and fluids are produced through the horizontal wells in a steam-assisted gravity drainage mode. Automated control must accomplish thermal communication between the vertical and horizontal wells and thereafter the steam must be controlled to minimize the steam-to-oil ratio and maximize the oil rate. The results demonstrate that PID control can be used to improve the cSOR and volume of oil produced.