There is presently an increased need to monitor production efficiency as heavy oil reservoirs become more economically viable. We present a feasibility study of monitoring steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) reservoirs using time-lapse gravimetry and gravity gradiometry. Even though time-lapse seismic has historically shown great success for SAGD monitoring, the gravimetry and gravity gradiometry methods offer a low-cost interseismic alternative that can complement the seismic method, increase the survey frequency, and decrease the cost of monitoring. In addition, both gravity-based methods are directly sensitive to the density changes that occur as a result of the replacement of heavy oil by steam. Advances in technologies have made both methods viable candidates for consideration in time-lapse reservoir monitoring, and we have numerically evaluated their potential application in monitoring SAGD production. The results indicate that SAGD production should produce a strong anomaly for both methods at typical SAGD reservoir depths. However, the level of detail for steam-chamber geometries and separations that can be recovered from the gravimetry and gravity gradiometry data is site dependent. Gravity gradiometry shows improved monitoring ability, such as better recovery of nonuniform steam movement due to reservoir heterogeneity, at shallower production reservoirs. Gravimetry has the ability to detect SAGD steam-chamber growth to greater depths than does gravity gradiometry, although with decreasing resolution of the expanding steam chambers.

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