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SPE/EAGE Workshop on Tar Mats and Heavy Oil

2 – 4 June 2014

Dubai, UAE | The Address Dubai Marina Hotel

Technical Agenda

Session 1: Advances in Heavy Oil and Tar Mats Characterisation

Session Chairs: Abdullah S. Al Shamsi, Saudi Aramco; Wael Abdallah, Schlumberger

Tar mats and heavy oil impose great challenges to the oil industry, requiring a comprehensive characterisation through data integration. In particular, tar mats represent the lowest API scale, where fluid is very hard to move and has very low gas content. They affect oil recovery by reducing porosity, creating permeability bar­riers, modification of rock wettability, etc. Reliable mapping of their presence within the reservoir will lead to robust reservoir development guiding well placement, monitoring fluid advancement and implementing the injection and production strategy. This session aims to define tar mats and heavy oil in terms of their scientific and practical value. Are there any recent developments in mapping their distribution, any down-hole tools for their characterisation and are they adequate? What advanced in-laboratory characterisation tools are available?

Session 2: Drilling and Completion Technology

Session Chairs: Abdelaziz Khlaifat, Abu Dhabi Polytechnic; Ahmed Al-Huthali, Saudi Aramco

The development of tar mats and heavy oil reservoirs has witnessed an extraordinary technical evolution, thanks to the innovativeness of operators seeking optimisation in their drilling and completion practices. Steam stimulation has been used for many years in these heavy oil reservoirs to produce viscous oil more effectively; but the completions practices required to make these fields economically viable had to also evolve in order to meet the operational constraints and the basic economics of heavy oil production. This session will address and discuss the evolution in the drilling and completion practices in heavy oil fields and reservoirs with tar mats. A complete reference to the design philosophy and selection criteria for the drilling and completion methods will be discussed.

Session 3: Modelling and Simulation

Session Chairs: Mohammed Al Habsi, Oman Oil; Nasser Al Azri, Petroleum Development Oman

This session will cover some of the aspects in modelling heavy oil fields and reservoirs with tar mats, with focus on sharing key challenges and best practices. It will also include examples of modelling some techniques to recover heavy oil and tar mats.

In this session we will discuss:

  • The key uncertainties in modelling tar mats and heavy oil and how they are addressed
  • The integration of various static and dynamic data to generate a reliable model to predict performance
  •  History matching and work flows used to calibrate models

Session 4: Reservoir Management

Session Chairs: Ahmed Al-Huthali, Saudi Aramco; Hamad Al Subhi, Petroleum Development Oman 

This session will address various aspects of reservoir management including reservoir surveillance programme, optimisation approaches, and recovery mechanism in heavy oil fields and reservoirs with tar mats. Reservoir surveillance is an integral part of the reservoir management process to understand performance and maximise production, since “we cannot improve what we cannot measure”. This session will discuss the production monitoring and surveillance programmes and the challenges involved in implementing these programmes. The discussion will also address the subsurface to pipeline oil flow measurements and optimisation highlighting various techniques and technologies used at different phases of the reservoir’s life from exploration to abandonment. The session will also touch on the different recovery mechanisms used to develop heavy oil fields and reservoirs with tar mats. The oil industry has a long history of developing heavy oil projects using thermal and non-thermal technologies; however, the Middle East heavy oil reservoirs present some additional challenges as many of these reservoirs are fractured carbonate.

Session 5: Facilities, Production Operation, and Environmental Issues

Session Chairs: Naim Al-Jabari, Halliburton; Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Saudi Arabian Chevron

Facilities required to produce heavy oil fields and reservoirs with tar mats are far from standard. There are multiple challenges involved. For example, flow assurance and developing the hydrocarbon in an environmentally friendly manner. 

This session aims at addressing the key factors to be considered in designing and operating tar mats and heavy oil facilities. It will also include discussions on key environmental considerations, such as, flaring, emission, and water management.

Session 6: Case Studies/Lessons Learnt

Session Chairs: Ahmed Al Huthali; Naim Al-Jabari, Saudi Aramco

Standard workflows and practices cannot be adopted directly without modification and special consideration when developing and managing heavy oil fields and reservoirs with tar mats. The development of these resources is not well understood, especially when the tar mats are associated with heavy oil, requiring special studies and additional investments to fully unlock the potential of these resources.

This session will include case studies of different success stories to develop heavy oil field and reservoirs with tar mats. The case studies will include successful geo-steering to place injectors above tar, completion strategies, flow assurance, etc. The session aims to identify what has actually been achieved or planned on real field case studies and what can be defined as the current state-of-the-art in developing and producing such resources. Also, lessons learnt in developing and managing heavy oil field and reservoirs with tar mats including best practices and key uncertainties will be presented and discussed.