A generalized flow rate model for primary production and an analysis of gravity drainage through numerical simulation
Vitter, Cameron Artigues
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The age of “easy” oil has steadily declined through the years as many conventional land-based fields have been depleted to residual levels. Novel technologies, however, have reawakened old fields, allowing incremental oil to be added to their recoverable oil in place (ROIP). Underground Gravity Drainage (UGD), an example of one of these technologies, combines improved horizontal and deviated drilling technologies with the longstanding concept of gravity drainage. In this work, a better understanding of gravity drainage has been gained through (1) development of a numerical, three-dimensional, three-phase reservoir simulator (UT-EMPRES), (2) development of a universal, semi-empirical model of production rates through primary depletion, and (3) analysis of the important aspects of gravity drainage through simulation. UT-EMPRES is a new three-phase, finite-difference reservoir simulator, which utilizes a simple, easy-to-use Microsoft Excel interface to access MATLAB-programmed simulation code. This simulator produces nearly identical results to other well-established simulators, including UTCHEM and CMG. UT-EMPRES has some unique features, allows for easy post-processing in MATLAB, and has been utilized extensively in the other two areas of this thesis. The generalized flow rate model (GFRM) is a semi-empirical equation that is used to forecast the dynamic primary production rate of a reservoir with an arbitrary number of wells all operating at the same constant pressure condition. The model is an extension of the classic tank model, which is inherently a single flowing phase development. With the ability to make a priori predictions of production figures, users can screen various prospect assets on the basis of economic potential through optimization routines on the GFRM. Gravity drainage and its approximation through numerical simulation are analyzed. A sensitivity study was conducted on three-phase gravity drainage, leading to the conclusion that small changes in vertical permeability and portions of the relative permeability-saturation relationships can greatly affect production rates. Finally, two-phase (oil and air) and regions of three-phase (water, oil, air) flow simulations were found to exhibit exponential decline in phase production rates, which may enable the GFRM to be applicable to UGD-type processes.