Hydrocarbon in place volumes are often inaccurate as a result of poor representation of the reservoir structure (by means of a 3D grid), that in combination with the use of traditional saturation calculation methods, lead to erroneous hydrocarbon volumes and poor investment decisions.

Traditionally a reservoir model is represented with a 3D grid, in a complex setting such as fault intersections and stacked reservoirs. A corner point grid is often used, which has limitations to represent this complexity. Further, the hydrocarbon saturations are then derived on a cell by cell basis on that 3D grid using simple averaging techniques of saturation height functions. The poor structure representation on the pillar grid in addition to the simplistic averaging methods lead to inaccuracies of the in place volumes especially where a prominent transition zone is present.

This paper presents new advanced saturation averaging methods (volume and height weighted) using saturation height functions on 3D grids. The new advanced saturation averaging methods are used on different reservoir models to compare the saturation distribution and volumetric differences against the traditional saturation calculation methods. A 4-way dip closure reservoir model with a tilted free water level (typical example of a carbonate reservoir in the Middle East), and a faulted S-grid model of the F3-FA field (North Sea) are used.

For the 4-way dip closure reservoir model, when comparing the advanced ‘volume weighted’ and traditional ‘by center of the part of the cell’ saturation averaging methods, a significant difference in the water saturations is observed which leads to about 5% difference in the calculation of in place hydrocarbon volumes. Further, it is observed that changing the thickness and orientation of the 3D grid cells can result in even larger differences of 5-10%.

The faulted F3 model shows that the difference between the hydrocarbon saturation values is largest where it matters most, that is, around the fluid contacts and in the transition zone. The new advanced saturation averaging methods give accurate hydrocarbon saturations irrespective of the size or complexity of the 3D grid and without any discretization effects.

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