Monitoring of Cyclic Steam Stimulation by Inversion of Surface Tilt Measurements

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Musa Maharramov and Mark D Zoback, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States
Temperature and pressure changes associated with the cyclic steam simulation (CSS) used in heavy oil production from sands are accompanied by significant deformation. Inversion of geomechanical data may provide a potentially powerful reservoir monitoring tool where geomechanical effects are significant. Induced pore pressure changes can be inverted from measurable surface deformations by solving an inverse problem of poroelasticity. In this work, we apply this approach to estimating pore pressure changes from surface tilt measurements at a heavy oil reservoir undergoing cyclic steam simulation. Steam was injected from November 2007 through January 2008. Surface tilt measurements were collected from 25 surface tilt stations during this period. The injection ran in two overlapping phases: Phase 1 ran from the beginning of the injection though mid-December, and Phase 2 overlapped with Phase 1 and ran through the beginning of January. During Phase 1 steam was injected in the western part of the reservoir, followed by injection in the eastern part in Phase 2.

The pore pressure evolution was inverted from daily tilt measurements using regularized constrained least squares fitting, the results are shown on the plot. Estimated induced pore pressure change (color scale), observed daily incremental tilts (green arrows) and modeled daily incremental tilts (red arrows) are shown in three panels corresponding to two and five weeks of injection, and the end of injection period. DGPS measurements available for a single location were used as an additional inversion constraint.

The results indicate that the pore pressure increase in the reservoir follows the same pattern as the steam injection, from west to east. This qualitative behaviour is independent of the amount of regularization, indirectly validating our inversion approach. Patches of lower pressure appear to be stable with regard to regularization and may provide valuable insight into the efficiency of steam injection. Inversion of pore pressure (and surface deformation) from tilts in this case is non-unique, and the DGPS measurement provided an important additional constraint. The method can be applied to inverting pore pressure changes from InSAR observations, and the latter can be expected to reduce limitations due to noise in tilt measurements.