Well placement optimization is a very challenging problem due to the large number of decision variables involved and the nonlinearity of the reservoir response as well as of the well placement constraints. Over the years, a lot of research has been done on this problem, most of which using optimization routines coupled to reservoir simulation models. Despite all this research, there is still a lack of robust computer-aided optimization tools ready to be applied by asset teams in real field development projects.

This paper describes the implementation of a tool, based on a Genetic Algorithm, for the simultaneous optimization of number, location and trajectory of producer and injector wells. The developed software is the result of a two-year project focused on a robust implementation of a computer-aided optimization tool to deal with realistic well placement problems with arbitrary well trajectories, complex model grids and linear and nonlinear constraints.

The developed optimization tool uses a commercial reservoir simulator as the evaluation function without using proxies to substitute the full numerical model. Due to the large size of the problem, in some cases involving more than 100 decision variables, the optimization process may require thousands of reservoir simulations. Such a task has become feasible through a distributed computing environment running multiple simulations at the same time.

The implementation uses a technique called Genocop III – Genetic Algorithm for Numerical Optimization of Constrained Problems – to deal with well placement constraints. Such constraints include grid size, maximum length of wells, minimum distance between wells, inactive grid cells and user-defined regions of the model, with non-uniform shape, where the optimization routine is not supposed to place wells.

The optimization process was applied to three full-field reservoir models based on real cases. It increased the net present values and the oil recovery factors obtained by well placement scenarios previously proposed by reservoir engineers. The process was also applied to a synthetic case, based on outcrop data, to analyze the impact of using reservoir quality maps to generate an initial well placement scenario for the optimization routine without using an engineer-defined configuration.

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