Shale lenses limit commercial application of SAGD process

J.K. Dietrich The Dietrich Corp. Palm Springs, Calif. The earliest steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) pilot projects have been installed and operated in the Athabasca and Cold Lake oil sands of Alberta, Canada, and many of these pilots are now mature. Unfortunately, target oil production rates and thermal efficiencies have been met in only two of the 10 or more, pilots.1 2 Although problems related to steam shortages, high hydrogen sulfide concentrations and fluid saturations were responsible for poor performance in some projects, the key feature of the unsuccessful pilots was the assumption of reservoir homogeneity and a lack of awareness concerning the impedance effects caused by th...

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