Technology Focus: Reservoir Simulation (July 2014)
- William Bailey (Schlumberger-Doll Research)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 90 - 90
- 2014. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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As the development of shale oil and gas becomes increasingly significant, so does the need for modeling tools for their accurate and timely forecasting. The basic question then arises: Are the simulation tools that we have suitable for the job? Can they explain, and ultimately forecast, the contribution to flow from natural or hydraulically induced fractures? Ultimately, we need to be confident that the results from such models are sufficiently reliable for decision-making purposes. As Alexandre Emerick stated in JPT (April 2014), “The goal is to generate models for production forecasting aiding the decision-making process involved in the development and management of petroleum reservoirs.”
The ability to model this increasingly important asset class is one of the primary issues facing reservoir and simulation engineers today. Our existing arsenal of simulation tools is certainly time-tested for conventional assets, but can they deliver reliable forecasts for this emergent class? Recent literature is rich with relevant studies ranging from fundamental laboratory experiments to entirely empirical, data-driven, approaches for predictive reservoir management. These articles raise numerous questions, including the possible oversimplification of a complex problem, the very nature of the production mechanisms, and the role played by any pre-existing discrete fracture networks.
Additional concerns relating to accuracy and reliability of the underlying data used to populate such models have also been raised. Keeping an open mind on this topic is, I feel, appropriate. One needs to balance the very real need for such predictive tools today with the recognition that future evidence may disrupt certain preconceptions. To this end, four articles have been selected that span a spectrum of ideas. One considers practical applications and solutions, while another covers the emerging technique of molecular simulation. Another eloquently probes various notions in our current state of understanding of shale assets and examines issues in interpreting the forecasts furnished by our simulation models. The fourth article demonstrates some creative thinking by representing a planar fracture by use of a proxy comprising a coupled flowing network model, a concept that may prove flexible and warrants further investigation.Conventional modeling tools used to predict flow in tight, fractured shales (e.g., dual-porosity models, local grid refinements, tartan grids) may, indeed, provide reliable forecasting. Analytic and data-driven approaches are also acceptable in some circumstances. However, as our knowledge in exploiting these assets deepens with new theory, laboratory experiments, and field and operational experience, we should be prepared to reconsider some of today’s axioms in the future.
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