Technical Paper: Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage with Electric Submersible Pumping Systems

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 4272009
Presentation Date: 2005
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With much of North America's reserves of light oil having passed their peak levels of production, attention is now being focused on cost effective methods to produce heavy oil or bitumen. Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) has proven to be a successful method to develop EnCana's bitumen and heavy oil reservoirs in Canada; at Foster Creek, Christina Lake, and Senlac. Key to the economic success of this method is the ability to operate the process at an arbitrary pressure suited to optimize: 1) steam oil ratio (SOR) and 2) production rates. Generally, this entails operating at pressures lower than those normally needed for Gas or Steam Lift, the method of choice before 2001. At lower pressures, the production rates required to make SAGD economically viable are well suited to the use of electric submersible pumping systems (ESP's). ESP's, however, have been typically limited to well temperatures below 180°C (356°F) and were not compatible with the higher well temperatures required with SAGD to optimize production. This paper describes the successful use of ESP's in conjunction with SAGD for producing heavy oil based on the development of a fit-for-purpose ESP system with specially designed pumps, protectors, motors and cables for service at temperatures up to 218°C (456°F). Advancements in ESP technology for SAGD operations were proven in the laboratory through extensive environmental and performance testing and validated through field-testing. This fit-for-purpose ESP system has been installed in over 14 wells and has achieved run times of over a year with production rates of approximately 7,000 m3/d (44,000 bfpd). Details of the ESP system, qualification testing and field implementation are presented.

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