The Benefits of Fully Digital Steam Injection

Digital steam injection substantially reduces production cost per barrel

Steam injection is the most commonly used method for delivering energy to heavy oil reservoirs in order to increase production and recovery factors, and to extend productive life. However, under the prevailing low oil price environment, profit margins of heavy oil projects can be narrow.

Workflows for technical and business processes for cyclic and continuous steam injection operations

Figure 1: Staged workflow for the DHOF project

A traditional field development design and execution approach involves a small number of stand-alone solutions that are not designed to achieve a common objective. Decisions are often made reactively, on a day-to-day basis, rather than through proactive planning. This approach has evolved to take into account the complexity of upstream or downstream consequences of operational decisions. Halliburton has been pioneering projects ranging from optimizing the planning of primary, secondary, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) reservoir exploitation using smart algorithms to real-time optimization of water flooding (Bravo, 2017; Mogollón et al., 2016, 2017).

A recently accomplished project focused on visualization and design of workflows for technical and business processes for cyclic and continuous steam injection operations. This is an important extension to EOR fields. This project is one of the first digital oilfield projects of this magnitude in steam flooding and cyclic steam that considers the integrated optimization of production networks, injection networks, and reservoir models.

The project was conducted in three stages:

  • Stage 1: Review and Assessment
    The objective of Stage 1 was to review and assess current situation and operator plans to determine and agree on what business processes and indicators are required for designing the digital heavy oil field (DHOF) aligned with the mission and vision of the operator.
  • Stage 2: Optimum Design
    The main objective of Stage 2 was to determine the operator’s desired level of functionality of the DHOF solution and to tailor the optimum real-time data monitoring and management system design that allows production, reservoir, and operation optimization.
  • Stage 3: Roadmaps and Supporting Plans
    The main objective of Stage 3 was to provide the roadmap and implementation plan for the successful deployment of the integrated DHOF and measurement of derived economic benefits.

The successful completion of the project was due largely to a close alignment with customer needs and the onsite deployment of a seasoned multi-disciplined consulting team with expertise in heavy oil production, thermal enhanced oil recovery, and the digital oil field.

The expected benefit for this project is a substantial reduction in the production cost per barrel. Encouraging economics were demonstrated for all DHOF deployment scenarios (i.e., full implementation, partial implementation, and no additional instrumentation), and the analysis pointed to the benefits of implementing a DHOF – benefits that included reservoir optimization. For the operator, this is a benefit of paramount importance, given the current low oil prices and the relatively high operational cost associated with many heavy oil fields. Consequently, this project proposes a new industry standard for the operation of heavy oil fields and EOR fields.


Bravo, C. (2017). Digital Transformation for Oil & Gas Production Operations: Voice of the Oilfield™

Mogollón, J.L., Tillero, E., Lokhandwala, T. (2017). New Trends in Waterflooding Project Optimization. Presented at the SPE Latin America and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 17–19. SPE-185472-MS.

Mogollón, J.L., Tillero, E., Gutiérrez, I., et al. (2016). Numerical Maximization of the Secondary Polymer Flooding Value in a Mature, Offshore, Heavy Oil Reservoir. Presented at the Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas, USA, May 2–5. OTC-27189-MS.


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