Imperial Oil, majority owned by ExxonMobil Corp., produces an average of more than 140,000 b/d of bitumen from the Cold Lake deposit via cyclic steam stimulation.
ExxonMobil Upstream Research said the steam injection technology, developed by Imperial at Cold Lake, improves regulation and distribution of steam in long horizontal wells, reducing the number of wells required, lowering operating costs by cutting steam consumption, and improving bitumen recovery.
The system has two key components. One is an externally mounted screen section that facilitates contact between the well and reservoir. The other is one or more small flow orifices beneath the screen section that create the desired level of flow restriction between the inside of the pipe and the reservoir.
The technology allows control of steam into the formation over the full length of a horizontal well. In steam-assisted gravity drainage developments, it can be used in injector and producer wells to manage steam distribution.
Eddie Lui, Imperial vice-president, oil sands development and research, said the company has seen reductions of up to 10% in carbon dioxide emissions because of improved efficiency of injected steam and improvement in ultimate recovery.