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SPE 53983

Integrated Laboratory Field Application for Thermal Recovery Process

Elias Lopez *, Luis Rojas *, Tomas Mata *, Humberto Mendoza *, Abrahan Briñez *, PDVSA Exploration y Production.*
SPE Members

Copyright 1999, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.

The reservoir management includes the evaluation of
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1999 SPE Latin American and Caribbean different technologies for monitoring and control and the
Petroleum Engineering Conference held in Caracas, Venezuela, 21–23 April 1999.
simulation and visualization of the process itself, so
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
injected fluid fronts can be tracked down the reservoir.
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to This will allow the creation of an integrated data base
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at and the use of intelligent information systems in order to
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of predict changes and perform decision analysis. The
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is lesson Learned in this Lab will help us to optimize and
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300
words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous become marginal projects into profitable ones.
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O.
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.
This paper presented the results obtain up to date in the
integrated field laboratory that for heavy oil is conducted
Abstract in W-6 area of Lagunillas Field in the Bolivar coast.
The Bolívar Coast Heavy Oil Fields (Tía Juana,
Lagunillas and Bachaquero), located at the eastern INTRODUCTION
onshore area of Maracaibo Lake, Western Venezuela,
contain some 37 billion barrels of Oil Originally In Place. In the Bolívar Coast Field, PDVSA possesses
The recovery from these three giant fields is 5.5 billions 36,740 MMSTB of heavy oil initially in place and
(15% STOOIP), and is expected to reach 7.7 billions reserves in the order of 7,723 MMSTB (21 % of OOIP),
(21% STOOIP) under current primary recovery method out of which only 2,246 MMSTB (6.1 % of OOIP) are
(Cyclic Steam Injection). considered remaining under current exploitation
It has been estimated that an additional 39% of STOOIP
in potential areas for steamflooding could be recovered During the developing of such reserves, several
by this process. Previous conceptual studies, and field tests have been carried out. Of them, Cyclic Steam
projects in Bolivar coast area has showed high recovery Stimulation (CSS) has been the one with the most
factor and marginal economics. Those project were economic success. From 1978 to 1988, a pilot test on
conducted under conventional application of technology. Steam Flooding (SF) was conducted in the M6 thermal
project of the Tia Juana Field. Such test was considered
In the last 10 years, technology has evolved in such a successful but it was suspended due to market
way that monitoring can be improved and the conditions.
performance enhanced for secondary recovery process.
These new technologies, such as 4D seismic, Recent studies show that our reserves will
Tomography, fiber optic, new approach for steam increase in 13,3 MMMSTB via SF with production rates
generation etc., have been tested in different steamflood of up to 1000 MSTB/D. This number is 35% of STOOIP.
projects with high impact in the added value. This gathered with the estimated 25% recovery with
CSS gives an approximately 60% recovery for the whole
PDVSA E&P has adopted a new approach to carry out BCF. Remaining reserves under CSS amount only to 2,5
technological projects under the philosophy of the MMMSTB (7% of STOOIP).
Integrated Field Laboratories. This concept is a wider
definition of a Pilot Test, since it encompasses the ideas On the other hand, when comparing with what
of evaluating a secondary recovery process and has been reported for other SF fields, their expected
performing the corresponding reservoir management. rates and recoveries are much higher current recovery
2 Lopez, Rojas, Mata, Mendoza, Briñez. SPE 53983

figures (figure 1). The key factor for their results is the which in turn is a representative fraction of OOIP.
integration of different technologies that, by monitoring
the effect of steam in the reservoir, allow managing the This will allow performing the entire test in a
use of heat and hence optimizing the recovery of oil. relative small area of the field, however representative of
the reservoir general conditions. This will allow
CONCEPT OF LABORATORY maintaining control of the activities and will illustrate the
application of the process at a large scale.
PDVSA has performed several pilot tests in
order to test different exploitation technologies. Among 3. - Accelerate technology transfer.
them, for heavy oil, it is included the pilot projects in the
Zuata and Hamaca areas of the Orinoco Belt, and the This will be achieved since integrated teams
SAGD applications in the Tia Juana Field. working together with experts on the studied processes
will perform activities. The flow of ideas that this effort
The concept of a Integrated Field Lab (IFL) will generate will train our personnel and accelerate the
involves massive use of technologies at all levels of our
1. Identification of key processes and technologies for
the selective exploitation of the resource basis of 4. - Complement of technologies.
light, medium and heavy oils, and whose massive
application allows to increase the recovery factors in Several technologies for monitoring will be
10% of the OOIP in the next five years. tested, providing an efficient way of determining how
these technologies complement each other (figure 2). It
2. Reduce the cycle for adopting, evaluating, and is expected that with this evaluation, it will be understood
transferring and massive using technologies how these different technologies complement, which in
3. Provide integrated strategies for reservoir turn will help in planning monitoring at field scale.
exploitation for reservoir/fields in order to maximize
the created valued for the corporation. 5. - Uncertainty reduction.

With this background, the development of an IFL The IFL will allow to understand the process and
of mature heavy oil fields is proposed in the W6 thermal to find the best practices for monitoring it in a small area
project of the Lagunillas Field in order to understand the as well as to define detailed models of the lab area, so
effect of SF and gather and integrate the information uncertainties, both operational and geological, are
obtained with different monitoring techniques (figure 2). reduced.
The information obtained with this IFL will provide
guidelines for the development of SF projects at large 6. - Quantification of effort needed for large field
scale in the heavy oil fields of BCF. application.

This is one of the three IFL that PDVSA has The IFL will provide knowledge to identify
planned for the period 1998-2000. The other two are for activities needed to apply the exploitation processes, the
light oils. One to understand the ASP process and the required monitoring technologies and so it will be known
other to understand the WAG process. the activities needed for commercial applications.

DESCRIPTION OF THE IFL 7. - Support decision making with the largest technical
Philosophy and strategy of the IFL
The information obtained from monitoring and gathered
The IFL’s are backed-up by the following in data bases, as well as the experience obtained from
philosophy: the IFL, will provide the necessary technical base for the
interpretation of the test and support modifications and
1. - Centralize efforts. extensions of it.

This implies that the test of the exploitation 8. - Personnel training

process, the monitoring program and the application of
information technologies to understand the process will The IFL’s will provide a place for on the job training,
be performed in the Lab. which will allow workers to apply similar processes
outside them.
2. - Perform the study in a small area of the reservoir,
SPE 53983 Integrated Laboratory Field Application for Thermal Recovery Process 3

Geographic Location
The mature heavy oil IFL is located on the 2. LDL/CN/GR/CAL
blocks W5 and W6 of the Lagunillas Field. There, 45 3. MAC/GR
wells, at a spacement of 133 m, form the W6 thermal 4. RCI/GR
project and 29 of those wells will be involved in the Lab 5. VSP
(Figure 3). 6. SWC or MSCT

Those 29 wells conform, on one hand, three In two of these wells core will be taken and in
concentric rings of wells and, on the other, seven five of them sidewall samples for production
hexagons, each as a seven-spot pattern. The pilot is geochemistry. Some results from these wells will be
configured as a normal project, i.e. injectors in the center shown in the Results section.
and producer surrounding them. Two new producers and
nine observation wells were drilled sequence for 1998. Seismic monitoring (4D seismic)
Also some of these wells, both for production and
injection, have to be worked over. In order to monitor the advance of the steam
(and hence temperature) fronts, a pilot project on 4D
To feed steam to the project, the W6 steam plant seismic is proposed within the IFL in order to determine
is being expanded and 2 boilers and 1000 tons of steam the feasibility of monitoring the SF projects PDVSA E&P
will be available for the beginning of the project. Further has in its resource basis (figure 4).
expansion are planned but not executed yet.
In this case, the object is to take “photos” of the
MONITORING reservoir before and after performing the SF process
and determine the dynamic characteristics of steam in
The monitoring proposed for the IFL pursues the reservoir. Since the geometry of the reservoir should
two objectives: not change during different surveys, the difference
between two consecutive seismic surveys should tell the
The first objective is to understand the process changes in fluids, due to the dependence between
that is being evaluated, which has implications both in velocity of seismic waves with temperature, porosity,
surface and reservoir level. At surface, production data it type of fluids, etc.
is desired to capture production and injection data, At
reservoir level, it is desired to follow up the steam fronts In the W6 IFL there are 4 seismic surveys
in order to determine which sands have been swept and projected: the one previous to the SF has been already
which have not and perform heat management. This will taken (figure 5) and the other three, one right after the
allow predicting the modifications needed. Similar beginning of SF to assure repeatability and the other two
modifications will be performed later on for larger 8 and 16 months after the beginning of injection.
Some results from seismic will be shown in the
The second objective is to evaluate different Results section.
monitoring technologies, evaluate the type of information
they provide, determine how they complement each Production Data
other and determine the optimum way to be applied at
field level. A follow up of the produced and injected fluids in
order to determine the rates of oil and water, quantity
For the IFL planned for W6, it is planned the and quality of steam injected and acid gases (H 2S).
following monitoring:
Production Geochemistry
Observation Wells
This technique is recommended since it is
Nine observation wells were drilled to monitor needed to account for reserves produced from each
the advance of the steam front. Their completion was interval. Our injector wells will inject selectively while the
only a cemented casing trough which temperature fiber producers are open hole gravel pack.
optic is set. One core and one high frequency VSP were
taken. Also they served either as receptors or sources The samples needed for this task were obtained
for the interwell tomography. from the observers and distributed all over the different
intervals of the oil column and test have been conducted
In these wells the following logs were taken:
4 Lopez, Rojas, Mata, Mendoza, Briñez. SPE 53983

Some results from these wells will be shown in 4. Foamy oil effects and PVT
the Results section. 5. Gridding effects.
6. Response of different wells or patterns.
SF Base case and Real Effects of the Process
This technique allows studying the seismic
response of the 2-D space between two wells. In one of In this phase, the different production SF
the wells the source is placed and the receivers in the mechanisms are to be simulated, in order to understand
other. Interwell tomography processes seismic signal their effects in the pilot and extrapolate to larger areas.
from not destructive sources and allows resolutions up to Also some exploitation schemes have to be modeled.
10 feet, solving some of the resolution processes the
seismic might have. Because of this, pressure barriers or Among these effects and schemes are:
faults not seen in seismic can be observed with this
technique. 1. Lowering of residual oil saturation with temperature.
2. Sand intrusion.
Observation wells were used to place sources 3. Heat losses in the tubing and surrounding layers.
and receivers for our particular application and will be 4. Shale intercalation.
tested to track the steam front. 5. Selective steam injection.
6. Multiple injectors.
Some results from interwell tomography will be
shown in the Results section. Project Modification
As the W6 IFL is planned, vertical wells at 11
SIMULATION AND VISUALIZATION acres spacement is considered. However other schemes
could be considered, based on steam performance. This
Simulation and visualization form part of the implies, on one hand add new injectors or producers to
understanding and monitoring of the process (figure 6), the model, in order to swept or produce areas non
but due to their computational nature, they are contacted by steam, and on the other to change the
considered separately. injection profiles to delay steam irruption and extend the
economic life of the project. The following are
Since they form part of the IFL, they must be considered:
framed by its objectives, so they have two goals: one
short term or local goal and the other long term or global 1. Additional wells (vertical, horizontal)
goal. 2. Additives
3. Water alternated steam injection.
At local level, there is interest in understanding 4. Hot water flooding.
the SF process. At global level, the interest is to spread
this knowledge trough the organization. Heat Management

Local Level Simulation and visualization are to show how

steam behaves in the reservoir, which areas are swept
At local level, the following aspects must be and which are not, so proper actions are taken to
modeled: optimize the use of this resource.

History Match Numerical simulations results from several integrated

field studies indicated that proper reservoir management
The objective is to determine, based on the practices such as, reservoir monitoring, heat
geologic model, fluid description and production and management, and reservoir characterization can
injection history the current reservoir conditions. The improve final recovery, and still being environment
process and effects that have affected the reservoir life friendly. In steamflood projects, proper knowledge of
must be represented in the simulation, and for the W6 fluid intake at the injectors and fluid outcome at the
case, the following will be considered: producers are important parameters to locate properly
the steam injection and pumping systems, improving
1. Selective injection. reservoir recovery at optimum costs.
2. Compaction.
3. Differential drainage Pilot Interpretation
SPE 53983 Integrated Laboratory Field Application for Thermal Recovery Process 5

Simulation and its integration with other source The second way is about monitoring.
of data must allow interpreting the IFL, in particular heat
balance and fluid migration. One lesson to learn is what the monitoring provides, how
it produces data and how data from different sources
Global Level can be integrated for heat and field management

At the global level, the interest is to transmit to Another lesson is that monitoring of this test is going to
the organization the lessons learned in the IFL. At this be redundant in order to study if data proceeding from
point, the following aspects are to considered: one source can be obtained indirectly from some others.

1. Identification of key parameters to new applications. The third way is integration and field application. The
2. Automation issues. results of the Lab must show how the process and the
3. Training monitoring couple and how this leads to a successful
4. Scaling from fine to coarse models. field development. The IFL is not about doing some test
but rather how those test increase the value of the
Data Collection and Documentation corporation. Results must tell the effort needed for the
10% production in 5 years, which is the IFL main
This approach will require two basic columns, objective (figure 7).
which will allow to evaluate and plan future projects: data
collection and documentation. FIELD APPROACH

Existing and new data have to be integrated to The field approach has four aspects:
update models and to obtain information to determine
process applicability. Among this data: The first one is to expand the IFL to neighboring patters
to take advantage of the infrastructure developed for the
1. Well data. IFL. This will also allow to benefit from the fact the IFL
2. Geology/ seismic. area is still warm and hence injectivity will be easier.
3. Fluids.
4. Petrophysics. The second aspect is to develop under SF other areas of
the field. In most areas, well spacement is 231 m, so an
To capture this data, a SCADA system is being infill drilling campaign is needed to have the same well
set. The 24 producers, the 7 injectors, the 9 observers distance than the IFL. Moreover, differential depletion is
and the flow station will be automated. a constant trough many areas of the Bolivar Coast.
Plans call for this campaign to be performed to take
Documentation must not only show the results advantage of this situation and deplete the
and the logic to obtain them but also the different corresponding sands via steam cycling.
situations toward future developments. The idea is that,
since the IFL will be a process school, the personnel at This procedure will impact economics positively since on
charge may have the pilot as reference. Documentation one hand, new wells with CSS will have high production
must include: rate because their main target are sands with low level
of depletion and on the other, those wells will be used for
1. Project history. the steam drive process.
2. Bottle necks and how they were solved.
3. Communication problems (between team members The third aspect is to apply the appropriated monitoring,
and between software) now at the field level, to obtain the best use of heat and
4. Activity report. increment the value of the corporation.
5. Conflictive data and interpretation.
The forth is to apply knowledge management to maintain
LESSONS to LEARN the learned lessons in the corporation. Reports on the
different activities are being written and kept both in the
These lessons come from three different ways: building library and the company Intranet. Data must be
kept so future analysis and modeling can be performed.
The first one is about the process: how it is applied and
how it must be applied in the field for a high economical
value. This has to do with all the operational aspects of
the process and how the process is modeled.
6 Lopez, Rojas, Mata, Mendoza, Briñez. SPE 53983


Observation Wells: All of these wells have been logged

and the interpretation has been integrated to the one of 350
seismic. Some of the logs are in figure 8 300 BACHAQUERO LAGUNA LAGUNILLAS

200 22% 16%
Seismic: As said before, the base run was taken at the 150 105
87 25%
beginning of 1998 and it is being processed and 100

interpreted, thanks to a high resolution VSP taken in one 50


of the observers. OOIP 10.1 MMMSTB

R. RES 0.2
As for temperature monitoring, it has shown areas in

which the response can only be associated with the 200 25%
previous steam cycling (figure 9). For reservoir 150 98
100 60%
description, it allows to see the different features of the 50 66%
reservoir in a very high detail, in the vertical and 0
horizontal plane (figures 10 and 11). These integrated R. RES 0.5

with logs give us a conceptual geological model of the

area (figure 12).

Tomography: The tomography has been processed and

its results being interpreted since the response is very
weak, but this has been associated to either the
Figure 1. –. Benchmark of some field under steam flooding
unconsolidated sand or to the presence of gas pockets
and those from The Bolivar Coast under steam cycling.
in the reservoir (figure 13).

Geochemistry: Samples are being analyzed (figure 14).

Results will be used to allocate production to different
sand intervals, if a fingerprint is found.

Partial results indicate that samples from different sand AUTOMATION ENVIROMENTAL MONITORING

are different both in chromatography and statistically.


Automation: The injector and four of the producing wells. HEAT

Data from these wells is being sent, via radio to a remote MANAGEMENT
location. SMART

1. Any use of technology must be driven to increase MULTIPLE INJECTORS

the value of the corporation, because it must lead to

increase reserves and to cause cost reduction. Figure 2. – Massive technology to be applied in the IFL of W6
2. Integrated use of technologies is the key factor for in which downhole assets are fully instrumented and
success, both for tests and for field applications. integrated to upper decision systems, such as numerical
3. The concept of IFL can be applied to prove any reservoir simulators, project management desktop and
exploitation process and to obtain the maximum of it. integrated reservoir management environments.


We thank PDVSA for permission to publish this paper.

SPE 53983 Integrated Laboratory Field Application for Thermal Recovery Process 7


Geophysics 3D
15.0 MMBN.

T-6 E

V-7 Feed-Back
W-6 W-6


Water Well
Reservoir Visualizatión
W6 Steam Plant Simulation

Figure 3. – Location map of the IFL of W6 in the Lagunillas Figure 6 - Simulation and visualization of the process are key
Field. Shown the location also of producer, injectors and issues in reservoir management for a displacement process.
observation wells.

- = 1000 TECHNICAL

IN THE EXPLOITATION HISTORY OF THE RESERVOIR 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07

Figure 4.- 4D seismic looks for differences between two seismic

shots and interpretates them as changes in the reservoir due to the
Figure 7.- Lessons to learn will include the effort needed to increase
reserves and production in similar fields to those where LIC’s are

•• Depth>
• Big amplitude
• Big amplitude
•• Soft
•• Sand
•• ++200

Figure 5.- 3D seismic from W6.

8 Lopez, Rojas, Mata, Mendoza, Briñez. SPE 53983

Figure 8.- Logs from observation well LS-5117.

Figure 11.- Detail of 3D seismic in W-6.

100 m

Figure 9.- Current view from W6 seismic. Blue spots, where seismic Figure 12.- Conceptual geological model for W-6. When finished, it
velocity decreasas has been related to heat renmaining from previous will be used for simulation. However, it captures the complexity of
cycles. the distribution of channels.

500 m 500



Figure 10.- Vertical view of seismic from W6. High resolution allows
to see 10 feet intervals.
SPE 53983 Integrated Laboratory Field Application for Thermal Recovery Process 9

Figure 13.- Current view of W-6 tomography.

LS-5119. Lagunillas
C23-3D/C29D (177) C30D/C29αβ (191) C29H(191)/C29D(177) C21+22/c27+c28 (218)

0 0,2 0,4 0,6 0,8 1 1,2 1,4 0 0,5 1 1,5 2 2,5 3 3,5 4 0 0,2 0,4 0,6 0,8 1 1,2 0 0,5 1,5 2,5 3,5


2100 A
2200 A

2300 B
? ? ? ? D
2800 L

La muestra a 2512’ no se graficó porque parece tener problemas experimentales. Para corroborar estos
resultados y los de la muestra a 2595’ se están haciendo mediciones por triplicado.

Figure 14.- Geochemestry from well LS-5119, one of the observers..