Anisotropy of hydraulic properties of subsurface geologic formations is an essential feature that has been established as a consequence of the different geologic processes that they undergo during the longer geologic time scale. With respect to petroleum reservoirs, in many cases, anisotropy plays significant role in dictating the direction of flow that becomes no longer dependent only on the pressure gradient direction but also on the principal directions of anisotropy. Furthermore, in complex systems involving the flow of multiphase fluids in which the gravity and the capillarity play an important role, anisotropy can also have important influences.
Therefore, there has been great deal of motivation to consider anisotropy when solving the governing conservation laws numerically. Unfortunately, the two-point flux approximation of finite difference approach is not capable of handling full tensor permeability fields. Lately, however, it has been possible to adapt the multipoint flux approximation that can handle anisotropy to the framework of finite difference schemes. In multipoint flux approximation method, the stencil of approximation is more involved, i.e., it requires the involvement of 9-point stencil for the 2-D model and 27-point stencil for the 3-D model. This is apparently challenging and cumbersome when making the global system of equations.
In this work, we apply the equation-type approach, which is the experimenting pressure field approach that enables the solution of the global problem breaks into the solution of multitude of local problems that significantly reduce the complexity without affecting the accuracy of numerical solution. This approach also leads in reducing the computational cost during the simulation.
We have applied this technique to a variety of anisotropy scenarios of 3-D subsurface flow problems and the numerical results demonstrate that the experimenting pressure field technique fits very well with the multipoint flux approximation method. Furthermore, the numerical results explicitly emphasize that anisotropy could not be ignored for the proper model of subsurface flow.