Hydraulic Characterization of Fractured Reservoirs: Simulation on Discrete Fracture Models
- S. Sarda (Inst. Français du Peetrole) | L. Jeannin (Inst. Français du Peetrole) | R. Basquet (Inst. Français du Peetrole) | B. Bourbiaux (Inst. Français du Peetrole)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- April 2002
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 154 - 162
- 2002. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 1.2.2 Geomechanics, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.8.6 Naturally Fractured Reservoir, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 3.3.2 Borehole Imaging and Wellbore Seismic
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Advanced characterization methodology and software are now able to provide realistic pictures of fracture networks. However, these pictures must be validated against dynamic data like flowmeter, well-test, interference-test, or production data and calibrated in terms of hydraulic properties. This calibration and validation step is based on the simulation of those dynamic tests. What has to be overcome is the challenge of both accurately representing large and complex fracture networks and simulating matrix/ fracture exchanges with a minimum number of gridblocks. This paper presents an efficient, patented solution to tackle this problem. First, a method derived from the well-known dual-porosity concept is presented. The approach consists of developing an optimized, explicit representation of the fractured medium and specific treatments of matrix/fracture exchanges and matrix/matrix flows. In this approach, matrix blocks of different volumes and shapes are associated with each fracture cell depending on the local geometry of the surrounding fractures. The matrix-block geometry is determined with a rapid image-processing algorithm. The great advantage of this approach is that it can simulate local matrix/fracture exchanges on large fractured media in a much faster and more appropriate way. Indeed, the simulation can be carried out with a much smaller number of cells compared to a fully explicit discretization of both matrix and fracture media. The proposed approach presents other advantages owing to its great flexibility. Indeed, it accurately handles the cases in which flows are not controlled by fractures alone; either the fracture network may be not hydraulically connected from one well to another, or the matrix may have a high permeability in some places. Finally, well-test cases demonstrate the reliability of the method and its range of application.
In recent years, numerous research programs have been focusing on the topic of fractured reservoirs. Major advances were made, and oil companies now benefit from efficient methodologies, tools, and software for fractured reservoir studies. Nowadays, a study of a fractured reservoir, from fracture detection to full-field simulation, includes the following main steps: geological fracture characterization, hydraulic characterization of fractures, upscaling of fracture properties, and fractured reservoir simulation.
Research on fractured reservoir simulation has a long history. In the early 1960s, Barenblatt and Zheltov1 first introduced the dual-porosity concept, followed by Warren and Root,2 who proposed a simplified representation of fracture networks to be used in dual-porosity simulators. Based on this concept, reservoir simulators3 are now able to correctly reproduce the main driving mechanisms occurring in fractured reservoirs, such as water imbibition, gas/oil and water/oil gravity drainage, molecular diffusion, and convection in fractures. Even single-medium simulators can perform fractured reservoir simulation when adequate pseudocapillary pressure curves and pseudorelative permeability curves can be input. Indeed, except for particular cases such as thermal recovery processes, full-field simulation of fractured reservoirs is no longer a problem.
Geological characterization of fractures progressed considerably in the 1990s. The challenge was to analyze and integrate all the available fracture data to provide a reliable description of the fracture network both at field scale and at local reservoir cell scale. Tools have been developed for merging seismic, boreholeimaging, lithological, and outcrop data together with the help of geological and geomechanical rules.3 These tools benefited from the progress of seismic acquisition and borehole imaging. Indeed, accurate seismic data lead to reliable models of large-scale fracture networks, and borehole imaging gives the actual fracture description along the wells, which enables a reliable statistical determination of fracture attributes. Finally, these tools provide realistic pictures of fracture networks. They are applied successfully in numerous fractured-reservoir studies.
The upscaling of fracture properties is the problem of translating the geological description of fracture networks into reservoir simulation parameters. Two approaches are possible. In the first one, the fractured reservoir is considered as a very heterogeneous matrix reservoir; therefore, one applies the classical techniques available for heterogeneous single-medium upscaling. The second approach is based on the dual-porosity concept and consists of upscaling the matrix and the fracture separately. Based on this second approach, methodologies and software were developed in the 1990s to calculate equivalent fracture parameters with respect to the dual-porosity concept (i.e., a fracture-permeability tensor with main flow directions and anisotropy and a shape factor that controls the matrix/fracture exchange kinetics3-5). For a given reservoir grid cell, the upscaling procedures consist of generating the corresponding 3D discrete fracture network and computing the equivalent parameters from this network. In particular, the permeability tensor is computed from the results of steady-state flow simulations in the discrete fracture network alone (without the matrix).
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