Reservoir Characterization, Modeling, and Simulation

Reservoir characterization, modeling, and simulation is a branch of the oil and gas industry concerned to determine the characteristics of a petroleum reservoir through computational models. Size, shape, rock types and petrophysical properties are, for instance, some of them. These characteristics allow us to form a virtual “portrait” of a reservoir which, after a couple of manipulations and adjustments,
may become similar to a real reservoir.

Reservoir characterization usually comes after the stage of seismic and geological survey, which is intended to collect a series of data that reveal lithological and morphological aspects of a formation. The seismic analyses, for instance, rely on wave theory. The response to their propagation through the porous medium provide vestiges on the existence of regions where fluids may be confined. These regions, called “traps”, are liable to make up the oil reserves.

Reaching the subsurface is a challenging task. Generally, stratigraphy and logging procedures are done during exploitation activities so that the well placement be highly accurate in order to maximize the production. Core analyses are also performed in the laboratory as a process that helps to interpret the properties of the porous medium.

Once available, these “field data” (stratigraphy, electrofacies logging, wireline logging, core analysis, permeability and porosity estimates, etc.) are used in the effective modeling of a reservoir. By applying advanced techniques that involve probability and statistics, such as stochastic calculation, kriging, and variography, the reservoir’s “portrait” can be reached by trying extense geostatistical realizations.

Playing a fundamental role in computational modeling, numerical simulations have become a preceding step for any project aiming to build or deliver products or physical mechanisms that are useful not only for society but also for scientists and researchers working on testing and development.

With the computer’s advent, accompanied by frequent technological advances, which reach from programming languages even more simplified and robust to parallel and high-performance computing, the power to process data has outstripped limits never seen before. Today, we find supercomputers that work at a scale of petaflops (1015 floating-point operations per second), and such a trend is growing up.

For petroleum engineering, numerical simulations are essential. Simulations that aim oil recovery are almost a priority, since supply previews of the behavior of several parameters to the engineers. Questions on where to perforate wells or how feasible is a certain production strategy are answered with an excellent degree of reliability after resorting to numerical simulations.

At LaMEP, this research line includes the following topics:

  • Well placement strategies
  • Production layout and pattern optimization 
  • Modeling of upstream systems and processes
  • Microporous image processing