This paper describes a trial project to evaluate autonomous inflow control device (AICD) technology to better manage water production in a large heavy oil field in Colombia. The Cajua block is part of the Rubiales field is in the Llanos basin of Eastern Colombia, and has reserves estimated at 7.5 billion barrels. One of the main production challenges is the high water cut, or BSW, driven by strong aquifer flow in the underlying sands of the Carbonera formation. Many wells experience early water break-through and must be produced above 95% BSW for long periods of time. Horizontal wells typically produce up to 8000 barrels per day of total fluid with electric submersible pump (ESP) on cold production, and do not utilize any thermal recovery methods. The loosely-consolidated sandstone reservoir has variable water saturation and permeability, which has continuously frustrated operators'’ attempts to manage water production ever since the Rubiales field was first brought online in the 1980's.
In late 2018, a three well pilot project was initiated to evaluate the ability of inflow control technology to manage water influx at the sandface of the horizontal completions. Three wells in the Cajua block were equipped with AICD screens and swellable packers to evaluate oil production and water cut. The AICD technology works by limiting water inflow based on fluid viscosity. Each segment, or compartment, of the horizontal wellbore is isolated by swellable packers, and the AICD creates a higher or lower drawdown on the reservoir depending on the fluid properties, favoring the inflow of high-viscosity heavy oil over the low-viscosity water.
The early production results show that AICD completions can effectively manage water production by delaying water break-through and restricting water inflow from the reservoir. Each of the three trial wells responded positively to the autonomous ICDs, allowing engineers to produce heavy oil wells more effectively with lower cumulative water volumes.
This project marks the first implementation in South America of AICD technology with rate-controlled production (RCP) valves to manage water production in a heavy oil field. It is also the second application worldwide, after Canada, to show that AICDs can effectively to manage water cut in a heavy oil, cold-production scenario.