Shale barriers within the bituminous oil sand deposits of the McMurray Formation have a detrimental effect on the steam-assisted gravity-drainage chamber growth and oil recovery. Typically, the non-net shale barrier lateral extents are too small to be detected with a few widely spaced delineation wells. The information on net reservoir and shale interval thicknesses collected from wells, along with a vertical indicator variogram, provide limited information about the horizontal extent and connectivity of these intervals. In this paper, a novel quantitative approach for predicting the lateral extents of the barriers, using thickness information provided by well log data, is proposed. The proposed approach is based on moments of inertia (MOI) applied to the shale objects to determine their effective size. The MOI calculation is aimed to simplify the almost infinite complexity of shale bodies into summary size parameters that can be readily understood and calibrated to production parameters. A case study is presented for optimal well placement accounting for uncertainty in the shale barrier sizes.

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