Accurate calculation of multiphase fluid transfer between the fracture and matrix in naturally fractured reservoirs is a very crucial issue. In this paper, we will present the viability of the use of a simple transfer function to accurately account for fluid exchange resulting from capillary and gravity forces between fracture and matrix in dual-porosity and dual-permeability numerical models. With this approach, fracture- and matrix-flow calculations can be decoupled and solved sequentially, improving the speed and ease of computation. In fact, the transfer-function equations can be used easily to calculate the expected oil recovery from a matrix block of any dimension without the use of a simulator or oil-recovery correlations.

The study was accomplished by conducting a 3-D fine-grid simulation of a typical matrix block and comparing the results with those obtained through the use of a single-node simple transfer function for a water-oil system. This study was similar to a previous study (Alkandari 2002) we had conducted for a 1D gas-oil system.

The transfer functions of this paper are specifically for the sugar-cube idealization of a matrix block, which can be extended to simulation of a match-stick idealization in reservoir modeling. The basic data required are: matrix capillary-pressure curves, densities of the flowing fluids, and matrix block dimensions.


Naturally fractured reservoirs contain a significant amount of the known petroleum hydrocarbons worldwide and, hence, are an important source of energy fuels. However, the oil recovery from these reservoirs has been rather low. For example, the Circle Ridge Field in Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, has been producing for 50 years, but the oil recovery is less than 15% (Golder Associates 2004). This low level of oil recovery points to the need for accurate reservoir characterization, realistic geological modeling, and accurate flow simulation of naturally fractured reservoirs to determine the locations of bypassed oil.

Reservoir simulation is the most practical method of studying flow problems in porous media when dealing with heterogeneity and the simultaneous flow of different fluids. In modeling fractured systems, a dual-porosity or dual-permeability concept typically is used to idealize the reservoir on the global scale. In the dual-porosity concept, fluids transfer between the matrix and fractures in the grid-cells while flowing through the fracture network to the wellbore. Furthermore, the bulk of the fluids are stored in the matrix. On the other hand, in the dual-permeability concept, fluids flow through the fracture network and between matrix blocks.

In both the dual-porosity and dual-permeability formulations, the fractures and matrices are linked by transfer functions. The transfer functions account for fluid exchanges between both media. To understand the details of this fluid exchange, an elaborate method is used in this study to model flow in a single matrix block with fractures as boundaries. Our goal is to develop a technique to produce accurate results for use in large-scale modeling work.

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