Research progress of Modeling on Cold Heavy Oil production with Sand

Yi Pan, Zhangxing Chen, Lizhi Xiao, Jian Sun, Xia Bao and Ruihe Wang


Heavy oil has been playing a critical role in today’s world energy supply. The total amount of heavy oil in place is five to ten times greater than that of the current proven conventional crude. One of the recovery methods, which produces both oil and unconsolidated sands, is known as Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand (CHOPS). The advantages of CHOPS lie in its commercial success as an inexpensive start up application for heavy oil reservoirs as well as its considerable recovery rates. The general reservoir characteristics associated with successful applications of CHOPS have been established, particularly highlighted in thin reservoirs with non-active edge and bottom water. Heavy oil researchers have accumulated local knowledge for the CHOPS fields; particularly, research groups in Alberta have taken integrated approaches to the questions posed by the field success of cold production. CHOPS gives high early production rates and becomes very efficient in the thin reservoirs less than 15 m thick where some thermal methods have been economically unsuccessful.

Aggressive sand production was encountered in California prior to the First World War. Two key mechanisms lead to the success of cold production in laboratory and field studies: foamy oil flow and wormhole network growth. A variety of numerical models are presented and compared in this paper. Such models can be mainly divided into two broad categories: preliminary model and comprehensive model. With a large number of variables still in limited recognition for the complex mechanisms, several models lack capability in fully simulating CHOPS processes, while progress was achieved in modeling the reservoir heterogeneity with the integration of seismic attributes at specific fields. A detailed discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of cold production models is proposed. The paper ends with the future work of modeling proposed on cold production.