SAGD operations are based on pairs of horizontal wells, drilled one above the other. The upper well is used to inject steam, and how the “steam chamber” is formed is a key to operating success. The formation of the steam chamber along the length of the well pairs and inside the reservoir needs to be as uniform as possible, in order to make sure that the steam-to-oil-ratio stays low and overall operations are economically efficient. AOS is drilling observation wells and placing sensors along the horizontal wells to help control and optimize the formation of the steam chamber.
As part of this monitoring program, AOS will also install an array of approximately 155 tiltmeters on the ground above the wells to help monitor how the steam chamber is expanding. This will help operational staff determine in which of the wells steam is being best injected and bitumen best produced, demonstrating the best conditions to create a uniform steam chamber, thus increasing operational safety. The tiltmeters will also provide advance warning of any anomalies, such as excessive pressure. The tiltmeter array is an important innovation and Clearwater is the first Canadian oil sands project to propose this feature.