Abstract

The paper presents a discussion on the issues related to the interaction between geomechanics and reservoir simulation in deformable hydrocarbon reservoirs. Geomechanics is important in order to account for rock deformations due to pore pressure and temperature changes resulting from production and fluid injection. Rock deformation can affect the permeability and pore compressibility of the rock. In turn, the pore pressures will be vary due to changes in the pore volume. Geomechanics is also required in order to account for the effect of the non-pay rock surrounding the reservoir on the overall reservoir compressibility and the loads transmitted to the reservoir by the weight of the overburden rock.

The paper gives the formulation and finite element discretization of Biot's equations for multi-phase fluid flow in deformable porous media. Based on this formulation, it is argued that geomechanical response and multi-phase fluid flow are fully-coupled processes in that pore pressure changes affect rock mechanical response and vice-versa, and that the two processes occur simultaneously. By contrasting Biot's equations and its discretization to the corresponding multiphase fluid flow equations used in reservoir simulations, it is shown that reservoir simulators neglect or simplify important geomechanical aspects that can have impact on reservoir productivity. This is attributed to the fact that the only rock mechanical parameter involved in reservoir simulations is pore compressibility. This parameter is not sufficient in representing aspects of rock behaviour such as stress path dependency and dilatancy, which require a full constitutive relation. Furthermore, the pore pressure changes due to the applied loads from the non-pay rock cannot be accounted for by simply adjusting the pore compressibility. Example problems are shown in order to illustrate the value of coupling geomechanics to reservoir simulators. Finally, the practical benefits of using coupled geomechanics and reservoir simulations are discussed.

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