Steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) projects emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases and consume massive amounts of water. Furthermore, the cost of water treatment for reuse is high and the net loss of water through waste water disposal is enormous. The process is associated with potential pitfalls in possible steam breakthrough that can lead to a massive sand production and the erosion of production facilities. With current practices, the SAGD process on average emits 60 kg of carbon dioxide to produce one barrel of oil. At least a gigajoule of natural gas (around 26 cubic meters) is required to generate the steam needed to heat the bitumen and produce one barrel of oil.
An HP-HT SAGD testing facility will be built to (1) advance technologies for optimal design of oil recovery processes and wellbore completions for thermal wells, (2) validate new thermal well monitoring and data/power communication systems that will be developed in sister projects in the Departments of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, (3) investigate formation damage caused by scaling and fines migration in SAGD wells, (4) study sanding and formation damage in SAGD steam injection wells subjected to well shut-in and steam backflow, (5) study sanding, liner erosion, and formation damage caused by the breakthrough of high- to low-quality steam in SAGD production wells, and (6) study steam collapse and pulsation effect on sanding in SAGD wells.