This article, written by Technology Editor Dennis Denney, contains highlights of paper IPTC 10281, "Muse: A Multimodal Reservoir Simulation Environment," by J.A. Pita, SPE, N.M. Al-Zamel, and A.H. Dogru, SPE, Saudi Aramco, prepared for the 2005 International Petroleum Technology Conference, Doha, Qatar, 21-23 November.

A new environment integrating a voice-advisory system with multimodal visualization was built for Saudi Aramco's in-house reservoir simulator. Engineers can simultaneously visualize oil saturation, hear changes in reservoir pressure, and feel rock permeability interactively as they move a 3D mouse throughout the reservoir. Engineers also can provide operational and surveillance rules so that the computer automatically checks conditions on any variables. The system can take a number of actions, such as using sound synthesis to speak directly to the engineer, when these conditions occur. The system runs on a Microsoft Windows-XP-based personal computer (PC) with dual processors.


New-generation reservoir simulators, capable of handling millions of cells, imply that geological detail can be handled without intensive scaling up, which can lead to direct seismic integration with reservoir simulation. Unfortunately, the ability to analyze information has not fully kept pace with these advances. Recently, devices that function as a "3D mouse" with haptic (i.e., touch) capabilities have appeared. These devices have the ability to navigate and probe inside Earth models.

Saudi Aramco's Multimodal Simulation Environment (Muse) is an environment that integrates a voice-advisory system with multimodal visualization. This environment provides stereo-capable 3D visualization, force feedback by use of haptic devices, and data sonification.

Multimodal Data Analysis

In contrast with conventional environments that provide only 3D visualization as the means for data interpretation and analysis, this system uses two additional "channels" for sensorial interaction: touch (haptics) and sound (sonification). Reservoir-simulation results that are loaded into the system can be attached to one or more of these three channels.

The number of data volumes (i.e., simulation variables) that can be loaded is limited only by the amount of addressable system memory, but only three volumes can be attached to channels. The other volumes resident in the system can be toggled at any time into the channels. All loaded volumes, either attached to channels or not, can be monitored by the system by use of rules prescribed by the engineer.

For example, the engineer can visualize 3D pressure distribution, feel permeability changes with the haptic device, and hear oil or gas saturation through the system speakers. The values of these properties are assigned to a range of 0 to 255, similar to a typical color map. Also, simulation results such as 3D distribution of the mole fraction of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) or acoustic impedance from a petroelastic model can be tracked as events, even if they are not directly attached to any channels.

Visualization Channel

So-called "rainbow" color maps are typical (e.g., blue for low values, red for high). The color map panel is fully editable, and engineers can choose the upper and lower limits to concentrate on specific value ranges, if so desired.

Figs. 1 through 3 show typical 3D displays of different simulation-output variables (pressure, gas saturation, and H2S mole fraction, respectively). Fig. 1 also shows the channel selection menu. A separate opacity map enables parts of the volume to be made translucent to reveal only specific ranges of the data. The data shown correspond to a nine-component compositional simulation of 500,000 cells for a gas/condensate reservoir.

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