Accounting for poro-mechanical effects in full-field reservoir simulation studies and uncertainty quantification workflows is still limited, mainly because of their high computational cost. We introduce a new approach that couples hydrodynamics and poro-mechanics with dual-porosity flow diagnostics to analyze how poro-mechanics could affect reservoir dynamics in naturally fractured reservoirs without significantly increasing computational overhead.

Our new poro-mechanically informed dual-porosity flow diagnostics account for steady-state and single-phase flow conditions in the fractured medium while the fracture-matrix fluid exchange is approximated using a physics-based transfer rate coefficient, which models two-phase flow using an analytical solution for spontaneous imbibition or gravity drainage. The deformation of the system is described by the dual-porosity poro-elastic theory, which is based on mixture theory and micromechanics to compute the effective stresses and strains of the rock matrix and fractures. The solutions to the fluid flow and rock deformation equations are coupled sequentially. The governing equations for fluid flow are discretized using a finite-volume method with two-point flux-approximation while the governing equations for poro-mechanics are discretized using the virtual element method. The solution of the coupled system considers stress-dependent permeabilities for fractures and matrix. Our framework is implemented in the open-source MATLAB Reservoir Simulation Toolbox (MRST).

We present a case study using a fractured carbonate reservoir analog to illustrate the integration of poro-mechanics within the dual-porosity flow diagnostics framework. The extended flow diagnostics calculations enable us to quickly screen how the dynamics in fractured reservoirs (e.g., reservoir connectivity, sweep efficiency, and fracture-matrix transfer rates) are affected by the complex interactions between poro-mechanics and fluid flow where changes in pore pressure and effective stress modify petrophysical properties and hence affect reservoir dynamics.

Because of the steady-state nature of the calculations and the effective coupling strategy, these calculations do not incur significant computational overheads. They provide an efficient complement to traditional reservoir simulation and uncertainty quantification workflows because they enable us to assess a broader range of reservoir uncertainties (e.g., geological, petrophysical, and hydromechanical uncertainties). The capability of studying a much broader range of uncertainties allows the comparison and ranking from a large ensemble of reservoir models and select individual candidates for more detailed full-physics reservoir simulation studies without compromising on assessing the range of uncertainties inherent to fractured reservoirs.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.