Research Projects

Beyond Dual-Porosity Modeling for the Simulation of Fluid

Flow in Unconventional Reservoirs

In fractured shale reservoirs, hydraulic and natural fractures serve as highways for hydrocarbon flow globally while most of fluid is stored in an extremely tight organic-rich matrix. In the fine scale, the stagnant matrix domain can be further subdivided into inorganic and organic porosities with significantly different attributes. Since there exist massive micro- and nano- pore systems in shale matrices, the actual flow mechanisms in shale reservoirs are considerably more complex than can be simulated by conventional Darcy flow. Those complexities make conventional dual porosity/permeability models intractable to directly simulate fractured shale reservoirs. The necessity of capturing the connectivity hierarchy and distinctive fluid storage/transport characteristics has motivated us to simulate unconventional reservoirs in a novel approach. In this micro-scale model, inorganic and organic portions of shale matrix are treated as sub-blocks. In particular, several porosity systems in the model may be tied to each other through arbitrary transmissibilities.


Pressure and water saturation distribution in shale matrix at different times

Simulation of Fluid Flow in Fractured Carbonate Reservoirs

Significant hydrocarbon resources exist in fractured reservoirs in the world, such as shale gas, CBM, and vuggy carbonate reservoirs. Generally these reservoirs behave in a different manner from conventional homogeneous reservoirs: the matrix mainly provides the fluid storage with little flow capacity and the fracture acts as a highway for global fluid flow with good fluid conductivity but little porosity. Therefore, to simulate the fluid flow in such reservoirs presents a challenging and interesting problem that has been the subject of much research. In spite of the advances accomplished so far, there still remains a significant obstacle to the accurate simulation of fractured carbonate reservoirs at the reservoir and field levels. A unified theory is required to allow this transition which forms the basis of this research. This is achieved by developing different techniques for the simulation of fractured carbonate reservoirs which far-exceed current capabilities and to apply these techniques to the relevant reservoirs all over the world. The results of micro-models will be extended to field-scale models through a unifying technique which allows the rigorous upscaling of the the micro-model results.


Outcrop of fractured carbonate showing the potential reservoir complexity

Use of Topological Data Analysis in Reservoir Engineering

Data analysis is one of the most important topics in any industry. In petroleum engineering, the complexity of reservoir data presents a challenge for engineers to study and make decisions. A new approach to analyze complex data is called topological data analysis which aims to extract meaningful information from such data. It relies on the concept that complex data has shapes and these shapes can be translated to information. The objective of our research is to use topological data analysis in studying a variety of complex data in reservoir engineering. From seismic to real-time production data, complex data in quantity, quality, heterogeneity and non-linearity is investigated and results are found and shown.


2-D projection of well production data