This poster session will present the benefits of 3D visualization as applied directly to reservoir simulation pre-processing and post-processing. Scientific or 3D visualization has been traditionally used for architectural engineering, finite-element analysis and computational fluid dynamics running on CRAY super computers. With the recent improvements in computer performance, 3D visualization systems can now be operate practically on graphic workstations such as the HP/Apollo, IBM RS/6000s and Silicon Graphics.

It can be difficult to visualize three-dimensional flow through porous media based upon a two-dimensional representation of the actual three-dimensional flow. Add a highly faulted structure upon the porous media and the three-dimensional flow becomes even more difficult to assimilate. Furthermore, reservoir engineers are constantly asked to review more production scenarios or alternatives in shorter periods of time thereby necessitating their need for more effective ways to interpret their simulation results. The need to transform the vast amounts of simulation results into easily understood images is crucial to improving our effectiveness.

Highlights of achieved benefits as well as current problems with 3D visualization approaches to understanding reservoir simulation results will be shown.

The display of reservoir simulations or models are an important step in the interpretation and use of the simulations. In particular, some models which are large and complicated like three-dimensional/three-phase reservoir models can be rendered useless in the absence of visualization.

Visualization provides closer links between geoscientists and reservoir engineers while promoting an integration as well as interaction of the two.

Reservoir simulation model design and construction can be checked and verified for accuracy. Prior to any history matching or prediction efforts, the geologic description within the reservoir model can be easily verified by the geoscientists. Eliminating incorrectly initialized reservoir models reduces wasted efforts and provides a more accurate estimate of hydrocarbons in place.

Fault location and throws can readily examined by the reservoir team. Small pore-volume grid-blocks can be identified and eliminated if needed. Large areal variations in dip and thickness, significant heterogeneity, irregular well locations, and shale descriptions can be verified.

History matching and predictions involving gas coning, water cusping,, rapid water breakthrough, front-tracking, etc. in the following:

  • Single-well radial (or r-z) models

  • Full field models

  • Full field compositional models

  • Block-centered geometry models

  • Corner-point geometry models

can be readily interpreted and understood by using isosurfaces, flow vectors, and particle tracking which all complement the typical 3D visualization software package. In addition, 3D visualization provides a better idea of the remaining unswept hydrocarbons' location.

The simulation reservoir engineer must persuade management and partners of the wisdom of his interpretations and recommendations based upon numerous simulation runs. No matter how good the engineering effort, unless it can be presented in a clear and concise manner to management, the project will encounter some trouble.

The role of 3D visualization is not just to create/display pretty videos and images, but to add insight. The goal is not to create a photo-realistic reservoir, but to analyze complex reservoir simulation results and make timely business sense of it.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper is presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A. Telex, 163245 SPEUT.

The author thanks the management of BPX for their support in dissemination of this technology. Special recognition must go to the members, past and present, of the BPX Alaska, Colombia, and Gulf of Mexico reservoir engineering groups for their suggestions of enhancements to a 3D visualization program for reservoir simulation.