Technical Paper: Energy Balance in Steam Injection Projects: Integrating Surface-Reservoir Systems

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 121489
Presentation Date: 2009
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Steam injection projects consume considerable amounts of energy to generate steam. Understanding where the heat goes at various times and places during the process provides the means to improve the performance of a project. Enhancements can be achieved integrating an energy balance analysis from the steam generator through the injection network, the reservoir, the producing network and the journey of the produced fluids to the separator.

The investigation presents a workflow to analyze the integration of surface and reservoir systems for a Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) project, to properly estimate energy transfers in the various components of the system thus providing information to improve project planning and enhance both the oil recovery and the economics of the project.

The elements considered in the systems were: boiler, heat exchanger, steam trap, steam injection and well networks, reservoir heat usage, heat losses to the over- and under-burden, production wells and surface networks. Parameters such as completion schemes, artificial lift and boiler-wellhead distances were also analyzed.

Results show that surface-reservoir integration, using reservoir and network simulators, is a powerful tool to estimate heat losses in steam injection projects, helping to understand and successful optimize their performance. The integration allowed the detection of steam quality variations at injection wells at various times during the process as a function of injectivity changes.

The SAGD processes analyzed were energy efficient in spite of retaining in the reservoir less than a third of the energy from the steam. In all scenarios, oil production was considerable greater than the fuel consumed to generate steam.

This paper shows how the analysis of steam injection processes integrating surface, well and subsurface mechanisms allows the identification of critical components of heat losses to optimize the design and operations to maximize oil recovery and reduce energy consumption.

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