Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) has become the de-facto standard for commercial development of heavy oil and bitumen (HO-B) reserves in a significant number of fields. Although SAGD has proved to be a highly effective technique, many uncertainties and unanswered questions still exist, leaving room to improve production and optimize the economics of a SAGD installation. One notable improvement originating from recent field experience is the novel usage of injection/inflow control devices (ICDs) in a conventional SAGD well pair. The use of a properly designed ICD completion is proving beneficial to both steam chamber development as well as improving the inflow profile of the producing well of the SAGD pair.
Work conducted in the Surmont field of Alberta, Canada provided an excellent starting point to optimize flow control improvements to the SAGD process. However, significantly more needs to be added to the discussion to establish best practices for ICD selection and usage and to quantify the benefits gained from using autonomous ICDs in HO-B reservoirs. It is the goal of this paper to provide a useful reference for ICD behavior and theory, selection criteria, the unique role of ICDs in managing steam chamber development, steam fingering control, and management of the subcool temperature (steam trap control). Representative field simulations of Albertan bitumen sand are used as the basis for describing overall trends in the use of flow control in the SAGD process.