A primary challenge for a new generation of reservoir simulators is the accurate description of multiphase flow in highly heterogeneous media and very complex geometries. However, many initiatives in this direction have encountered difficulties in that current solver technology is still insufficient to account for the increasing complexity of coupled linear systems arising in fully implicit formulations. In this respect, a few works have made particular progress in partially exploiting the physics of the problem in the form of two-stage preconditioners.
Two-stage preconditioners are based on the idea that coupled system solutions are mainly determined by the solution of their elliptic components (i.e., pressure). Thus, the procedure consists of extracting and accurately solving pressure subsystems. Residuals associated with this solution are corrected with an additional preconditioning step that recovers part of the global information contained in the original system.
Optimized and highly complex hierarchical methods such as algebraic multigrid (AMG) offer an efficient alternative for solving linear systems that show a "discretely elliptic" nature. When applicable, the major advantage of AMG is its numerical scalability; that is, the numerical work required to solve a given type of matrix problem grows only linearly with the number of variables. Consequently, interest in incorporating AMG methods as basic linear solvers in industrial oil reservoir simulation codes has been steadily increasing for the solution of pressure blocks.
Generally, however, the preconditioner influences the properties of the pressure block to some extent by performing certain algebraic manipulations. Often, the modified pressure blocks are "less favorable" for an efficient treatment by AMG. In this work, we discuss strategies for solving the fully implicit systems that preserve (or generate) the desired ellipticity property required by AMG methods. Additionally, we introduce an iterative coupling scheme as an alternative to fully implicit formulations that is faster and also amenable for AMG implementations. Hence, we demonstrate that our AMG implementation can be applied to efficiently deal with the mixed elliptic-hyperbolic character of these problems. Numerical experiments reveal that the proposed methodology is promising for solving large-scale, complex reservoir problems.