Scaled Physical Modeling of Wormhole Development during Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand (CHOPS)

  • Poster Presentations
  • May 28, 2019
  • 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

WBPC 2019 Abstract #17

 Co-Authors: Shahin Layeghpour and Chris Hawkes, University of Saskatchewan

Cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS) is a relatively low-cost option for increasing recovery from heavy oil reservoirs, in which the flow of heavy oil is facilitated by the development of zones of increased porosity and permeability (“wormholes”) within the reservoir. Improved efficiency of CHOPS operations, and appropriate design of post-CHOPS enhanced recovery methods, require a better understanding of wormhole geometry. In spite of extensive field, numerical and laboratory (physical modeling) investigations of wormhole development, the attributes of these features, and the factors that govern their growth, are not yet fully understood. This presentation will describe the design and construction of an experimental apparatus suitable for modeling wormhole development. The current project builds upon research conducted using a geotechnical centrifuge in the 1990’s. Centrifuge testing presents significant advantages over standard testing methods because, through the scaling effects achieved under high gravity conditions, it enables investigation of sand production processes at the reservoir scale. One of the intriguing observations made during testing with older centrifuge technology was the fact that sand production tended to occur preferentially in sand zones immediately underlying shales. The current research involved the development of a new physical model based on state-of-the-art centrifuge technology and sensors; a model which will be used to systematically investigate the effects of reservoir heterogeneity on wormhole development in the next phase of this project.