Abstract

The paper presents a discussion on the issues related to the interaction between rock deformation and multiphase fluid flow behaviour in hydrocarbon reservoir simulations. Pore pressure and temperature changes resulting from production and fluid injection induce rock deformations which should be accounted for in reservoir modelling. Reservoir rock deformation can affect the permeability and pore compressibility of the rock. In turn, the pore pressures will vary due to changes in the pore volume. The deformation of the surrounding non-reservoir rocks (under-, side- and over- burdens) should also be taken into account in order to assess their effects on the overall reservoir compressibility as well as the loads transmitted to the reservoir by the weight of the overburden.

The paper presents the formulation of Biot's equations for multi-phase fluid flow in deformable porous media. Based on this formulation, it is argued that rock deformation and multi- phase fluid flow are fully-coupled processes which should be accounted for simultaneously. However, the coupled equations can be decoupled to a classical hydraulic diffusivity equation for pre-defined simple stress paths. In the general case, by contrasting Biot's equations and its finite element discretization to the corresponding multiphase fluid flow equations used in classical 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 the 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 importance of coupling flow and deformation in reservoir simulators.

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