Reservoir simulation is a popular tool to understand unconventional reservoirs dynamics. Applications include estimating long-term production behavior, enhancing well spacing and pad modeling efficiency, optimizing completion and stimulation of horizontal wells, and understanding production drivers that cause differences in productivity between wells. The objective of this work is to revisit fundamental concepts of reservoir simulation in unconventional reservoirs and to give several real examples that form part of an archive of lessons learnt.

Our work includes several reservoir simulation models in unconventional plays worldwide. These models are a function of the specific objective (from the 4 aforementioned applications) and reservoir type. They include structured and unstructured grid models, high- and low-resolution gridding, single porosity and dual porosity, compositional and black oil PVT, variations in the definition of complex hydraulic fractures in shale reservoirs (accounting for variations in properties that occur in time and space), and different protocols for incorporating initial water in-place as a result of hydraulic fracturing fluid.

We have encountered several challenges during this work. Some of these include: simulation model non-uniqueness, accounting for variations of reservoir properties with time and space and implications of production forecasting in volatile oils or gas condensates. Our work has brought to light important aspects of modeling unconventional reservoirs, such as changes in apparent well productivity after well shut-in or choke changes, cluster spacing, grid size and complex fracture thickness effects in horizontal wells, supercharging effects resulting from hydraulic fracture treatments, and simulation grid cell size impact on reservoir simulation cases where modeling transient flow behavior between perforation clusters. In most cases, to reduce computational time we have taken advantage of modeling a portion of the lateral and scaling up the results.

The lessons learnt continue the forum for further discussions regarding shale reservoir well and production modeling in our industry. They will provide a useful reference especially for those with little experience in unconventional reservoir simulation to better understand and develop both new and existing unconventional reservoirs.

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