Two discrete-fracture models (DFMs) based on different, independent numerical techniques have been developed for studying the behavior of naturally fractured reservoirs. One model is based on unstructured gridding with local refinement near fractures, while in the second model fractures are embedded in a structured matrix grid. Both models capture the complexity of a typical fractured reservoir better than conventional dual-permeability models, leading to a more accurate representation of fractured reservoirs.

The accuracy of the DFM approaches is confirmed by their match with a structured, grid-aligned, explicit-fracture model in tests involving capillary imbibition during water flooding and gravity drainage in oil-gas systems. The DFMs are insensitive to grid orientation. Simulations also show consistency and agreement of results of the DFM methods in synthetic models with complex fracture patterns. Our simulations indicate that conventional dual-permeability approaches are appropriate when the fracture system is very sparse relative to the grid spacing. In these situations a DFM can be used as the basis for defining dual-permeability model parameters. However, conventional dual-permeability approaches are inadequate in the presence of high localized anisotropy and preferential channeling. When used with general purpose reservoir simulators, both DFMs show computational performance that is comparable to that of dual-permeability models.

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