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Use and Misuse of Reservoir Simulation

K. H. Coats, SPE-AIME, The U. of Texas at Austin

Webster defines “simulate” as “to assume the appear- 4. We can estimate the effect of producing rate on
ance of without the reality”. Simulation of petroleum recovery.
reservoir performance refers to the construction and 5. We can calculate the total gas field deliver-
operation of a model whose behavior assumes the ability for a given number of wells at certain specified
appearance of actual reservoir behavior, The model locations.
itself is either physical (for example, a laboratory 6. We can estimate the lease-line drainage in het-
sandpack) or mathematical. A mathematical model erogeneous oil or gas fields.
is simply a set of equations that, subject to certain The tools of reservoir simulation range from the
assumptions, describes the physical processes active intuition and judgment of the engineer to complex
in the reservoir, Although the model itself obviously mathematical models requiring use of digital mm-
lacks the reality of the oil or gas field, the behavior puters. The question is not whether to simulate but
of a valid model simulates (assumes the appearance rather which tool or method to use. There is no gen-
of) that of the field. eral answer to the question as to when the computer-
The purpose of simulation is to estimate field per- ized mathematical model should be employed. After
formance (e.g., oil recovery) under a variety of pro- some preliminary discussion of the nature of mathe-
ducing schemes. Whereas the field can be produced matical models and sources of error, some valid and
only once — and at considerable expense — a model invalid model applications will be illustrated herewith
can be produced or “run” many times at low expense specific examples. It should be noted that this dis-
over a short period of time, Observation of model cussion is restricted to models for multidimensional,
performance under different producing conditions, single or multiphase flow in reservoirs. These models
then, aids in selecting an optimum set of producing apply to dry gas reservoirs and to oil reservoirs under-
conditions for the reservoir. More specifically, with going natural depletion or pressure maintenance (such
reservoir simulation the following are possible. as natural water drive, waterflood or gas injection).
1. We can determine the performance of an oil
field under water injection or gas injection, or under The Mathematical Model
natural depletion. In 1959 Douglas, Peaceman and Rachfordl proposed
2. We can judge the advisability of flank water- the “Leap-Frog” and “Simultaneous Solution” meth-
flooding as opposed to pattern waterflooding. ods for solving two-dimensional, two-phase flow prob-
3. We can determine the effects of well location lems, In 1960, Stone’ and Sheldcm3d~scribed an “Im-
and spacing. plicit Pressure-Explicit Saturation” method. Since

In reservoir simulation, the question is not whether, but how and how much.
The complexity of the questions being asked, and the amount and reliability of the data
available, must determine the sophistication of the system to be used.

IOVEMBER, 1969 ‘1391


that time, computer simulation of two-dimensional, smaller spatial or time steps, Compared with errors
two-phase flow has become increasingly efficient as from other sources, round-off errors generally are
larger, higher-speed computers have evolved with negligible.
attendant reduced computing costs. Peaceman and Error caused by faulty reservoir description data
Rachford performed a three-dimensional calculation is dficult to determine since the true reservoir de-
of two-phase flow in a five-spot by the Leap-Frog scription is virtually never known. A combination of
method4 in 1962. Three-dimensional, two-phase sim- core analyses, well pressure tests and geological
ulators have been developed and applied, using the studies often gives valid insight into the nature of
simultaneous method, since early 1963,4 Recent arti- permeability and porosity distributions and reservoir
cles describe simulators for three-dimensional, three- geometry. The best method of obtaining a valid reser-
phase incompressible and compressible flow. voir description is to determine in some reamer the
The mathematical reservoir simulator consists bas- particular description that results in best agreement
ically of sets of partiai dtierential equations that ex- between calculated and obsewed field performance
press conservation of mass and/or energy. In addi- over a period of available reservoir history.
tion, the model entails various phenomenological In many cases, the engineer is less concerned with
“laws” describing the rate processes active in the res- the absolute accuracy of his reservoir description data
ervoir. Example laws are those of Darcy (fluid flow), and results than he is with the sensitivity of calculated
Fourier (heat conduction), and Fick (solute transport results to variations in those data. The reason for this
by diffusion or dispersion). Fhally, various assump- is that most questions regarding resewoir perform-
tions may be invoked, such as those of one- or two- ance involve comparison of performances under al-
dimensional flow and single- or two-phase flow, neg- ternative exploitation schemes. Sensitivity to errors
ligible dispersion or gravity or capillaxy effects. in reservoir description data can be determined by
The model equations are generally nonlinear and performing several runs with variations in those data
require numerical solution. A computer program is covering a reasonable range of uncertainty. For ex-
written to utilize some numerical technique in solv- ample, assume that a computerized mathematical
ing the equations. Required program input data in- model using a certain reservoir description yields oil
clude fluid PVT data — formation volume factors recoveries of 57 percent under a flank waterflood and
and solution gas (f?, Mcf/STB) as functions of pres- 32 percent under natural depletion. If additional runs,
sure — rock relative permeability and capillary pres- with reservoir descriptions varied over a considerable
sure curves, and reservoir description data. This last range of uncertainty, yield small variations (say about
category usually constitutes the bulk of the input data 3 percent) in these recoveries, then the estimated re-
and is the most difficuh to determine accurately. coveries might be accepted as meaningful. In addition,
Computed results generally consist of pressures and the reservoir description would be considered as
fluid saturations at each of several hundred grid points “adequate”. If, however, reasonable variations (with
throughout the reservoir. In problems involving heat regard to range of uncertainty) in reservoir descrip-
or solute flow the model will also entail calculation of tion result in large variations (say about 20 percent)
temperature or concentration at each grid point. in computed recoveries, then attention should be given
These spatial distributions of pressure, etc., are deter- to obtaining a more accurate reservoir description.
mined at each of a sequence of time levels covering Even if calculated recoveries show considerable sensi-
the producing period of interest. tivity to variations in reservoir description, some
meaning might be attached to an essentially invariant
Sources of Error in Computed Results difference between computed recoveries by waterflood
There are several potential sources of error in com- and computed recoveries by natural depletion.
puted results, This discussion of sensitivity of computed results
1. The model itself is usually approximate since to errors in description data applies equally to sensi-
it involves certain assumptions that are only partly tivity to errors or uncertainty in any other model input
valid. data. Too often we tend to demand accurate deter-
2. Replacement of the model differential equa- mination of all types of input data before we accept
tions by dMerence equations introduces truncation the computed results as meaningful or reliable. Ac-
error; that is, the exact solution of the difference equa- tually, interest in accuracy of input data should be
tions differs somewhat from the solution to the origi- proportional to the sensitivity of computed results to
nal differential equations, variations in those data. If, for example, wide vari-
3. The exact solution of the difference equations ations in the gas relative permeability curve result in
is s~t obtained due to round-off error incurred by the virtually no change in computed oil recovery, then
tin;. -vord length of the computer. the accuracy of this curve warrants little attention.
4 ‘”whaps most important, reservoir description The simulation model itself can be useful in allo-
data “-~ example, permeability, porosity distribu- cating effort and expense in the determination of res-
tions) sc “ m are accurately known. ervoir fluid and. rock data. Computer runs mav be
The Ie*:: of truncation error in computed results performed at an early stage of the reservoir study to
may be esti: ated by repeating runs or portions of estimate sensitivity of calculated reservoir perfonp-
runs with sma cr space or time increments. Signifi- ance to variations in the assorted necessary input data.
cant sensitivity of emmputed results to changes in Obviously, effort should be concentrated on obtaining
these increment sizes indicates a significant level of those data that have the greatest effect on calculated
truncation error and the corresponding need for performance. For example, in cases where the gravity
drainage mechanism dominates oil recovery, the rela- of computerized reservoir models. Features responsi-
tive permeability curve to oil at low and middle-range ble for this validity are pointed out, Henderson,
oil saturations has a pronounced effect on calculated Dempsey, and Tyler’ described a computer simula-
oil recovery. Gas viscosity and relative permeability tion of two-dimensional, transient gas flow in a dry
and capillary pressure may play virtually no role gas storage reservoir. The practical problem was that
whatever, and effort expended in determining them of meeting a required (contractual) deliverability
is largely wasted. schedule over a 11O-daywithdrawal period. Tlie peak
required delivery rates occurred at the end of the
Educational Value of Simulation Models period, when gas in place and hence reservoir pressure
Simulation model results frequently have consider- and field deliverability were at their lowest levels, The
able educational value, quite apart from their aid in reservoir had 41 wells currently drilled and the prob-
reaching decisions regarding reservoir operation. The lem was to select the number and locations of addi-
complex interactions of gravity, viscous, and capillary tional wells to be drilled before the next withdrawal
forces in heterogeneous reservoirs often result in season. The incentive to minimize the number of ad-
seemingly anomalous, or at least unexpected, calcu- ditional wells was strong, since each well cost about
lated flow patterns. Verification of the validity of $125,000. On the other hand, the incentive to have
such patterns requires considerable insight into the enough wells was also strong since the contract speci-
physics of the situation. Such verification can often fied a penalty of $10 to $100 for each Mcf of con-
be attained by recourse to simpler models. For ex- tractual gas not delivered,
ample, calculated water saturation profiles for a one- The numerical model employed simulated two-
dimensional vertical water drive in a heterogeneous dimensional (areal) unsteady-state gas flow in a
pinnacle reef reservoir exhibit pronounced oscillation closed heterogeneous reservoir of arbitra~ geometry
with vertical distance. These calculated oscillations with an arbitrary number of wells arbitrarily located.
persist virtually unchanged, d~spite considerable re- Model results included pressure distributions in the
duction of spatial and time in. sments; i.e., they are field at various times covering the 110-day period,
not caused by truncation error. The oscillations are and field deliverability (Mcf/D) by well and for the
caused by the dependence of frontal water saturation total field at each of these times. Input data specified
upon both gravity and viscous forces, The ratio of a gathering system or flowing wellbore pressure. The
these forces vanes markedly with the permeability of model was run a number of times for different pro-
successive layers upward through the reservoir, The posed numbers and locations of additional wells and
simpler Buckley-Leverett model, extended to hetero- under diflerent strategies regarding the order in which
geneous one-dimensional systems, shows the same various wells were brought “on stream”. Results indi-
oscillations. In high permeability layers, gravity forces cated that field deliverability depended strongly upon
dominate viscous forces and a high frontal water the locations of additional w~lls and upon the order
saturation develops. However, as this front passes up- in which they were turned on during the 110-day
wards into a low permeability block, viscous forces period. A somewhat simplified statement of study re-
are dominant and give a low frontal saturation. Upon sults is that additional wells should be drilled prefer-
leaving the tight layer and again entering a loose one, entially in the tighter (lower kh) areas of the reservoir.
the frontal saturation again jumps to a high value, Further, these tighter wells should be turned on early
resulting in an oscillatory water saturation profile at in the withdrawal period, saving the wells in the high
any given time, kh portions of the reservoir for the peak withdrawal
Another example of the educational value of simu- period.
lation models is their application to the question of The well locations and operating strategy recom-
lease-line drainage. Consider a heterogeneous gas res. mended on the basis of those model results were
ervoir or undersaturated oil reservoir with given (esti- largely adopted by the operating company. Recent
mated) kh and #h maps. The reservoir consists of a performance of the reservoir is comparing reasonably
number of leases with various numbers of producing well with that predicted by the model.
wells in each lease. The problem is that of estimating The practical Lenefit derived from this application
net drainage rate into or out of each lease for given was the elimination of a considerable number of ex-
well producing rates under a semisteady state reser- pensive wells that would otherwise have been drilled.
voir depletion. As discussed below, simple examina- That is, the proper locations of additional wells rela-
tion of the simulator equations allows isolation of that tive to field heterogeneity and an “optimum” operat-
portion of field data that determines these net drain- ing strategy allowed satisfaction of field deliverabili-
age rates. In fact, under certain conditions, the rates ty requirements with considerably fewer additional
can be quickly determined, quantitatively, without wells,
any numerical solution of the simulator equations, In Features contributing to the benefit of this applica-
cases like this, the shrndator, either by simple ex- tion are: (1) the clearcut incentive to reduce addi-
amination or by a limited number of computer runs, tional well cost, and (2) the extensive field perform-
allows more intelligent formulation of general rules ance data available over several withdrawal seasons.
for field operation. The critical data in this case (from a standpoint of
sensitivity of model results) were the reservoir kh
Some Applications of Numerical distribution and individual well backpressure curves.
Reservoir ModeIs These data were fairly well known from the perform-
Here we will briefly describe some valid applications ance data for the existing 41 wells.
NOVEMBER, 1%9 1393
models indicated that gravity drainage was a serious
Rainbow Field, Alberta problem in that oil saturations appreciably above
Applications of computerized multidimensional simu- residual persisted in tight layers well above the declin-
lators are frequently subject to justification as well as ing, primary gas-oil contact. Fig. 2 shows computed
to criticism. The recent pinnacle reef discoveries in oil saturation vs depth for one of the reef reservoirs
the Rainbow field of Alberta offer such an example. after 15 years of natural depletion. This distribution
For this field the immediate problem is to estimate indicates the inadequacy of the complete gravity
oil recovery under natural depletion as opposed to drainage assumption inherent in the conventional ma-
various pressure maintenance schemes. The effect of terial balance calculation. In this case the conven-
producing rate on recovery is a subsidiary question. tional material balance calculation is totally incapable
The zero-dimensional material balance calculation of yielding meaningful estimates of oil recovery.
can be easily modified by including the capillary- Use of the computerized numerical model in these
gravitational equilibrium concept to yield one-dimen- reef studies can be criticized since the answers ob-
sional (vertical) results. That is, an average field oil tained are considerably dependent upon the reservoir
saturation of 70 percent need not be viewed as a description (essentially vertical permeability) em-
uniform 70 percent saturation from the top to bottom ployed. And in many pools, permeability data are
of the reef. Rather the 70 percent can be considered available from only a single well. This scarcity of in-
the average corresponding to a nearly segregated fluid formation about rather critical data required by the
column. However, by virtue of this equilibrium as- model spurrtid an intensive geological study. The geo-
sumption, the material balance calculation iixes ulti- logical work utilized data from many pools in a single
mate recove~ at essentially 1 – S~,, where So, is the area in an attempt to gain a more reliable reservoir
residual oil saturation at which relative permeability description than that of a simple extrapolation over
to oil is zero. Equivalently stated, the material bal- entire pool cross-sectional area from the well core
ance calculation assumes gravity drainage of oil from data. The geological work and numerical model
behind the declining gas-oil contact to be complete studies are discussed in the literatures’ e
and instantaneous. One justification for application of numerical mod-
This complete recovery predicted by a material eling to these reef reservoirs is simply the fact that it
balance calculation might be reasonable if reservoir is not possible to estimate recoveries and effects of
permeability were sufficientlyhigh throughout the res- rate on recovery using conventional material balance
ervoir. However, core analyses from wells in most of calculations. Uncertainties in critical reservoir de-
these fields indicate rather severe heterogeneity with scription data are partly offset by geological study and
layers of considerable thickness (several feet) having will be reduced further as performance history be-
vertical permeabilities of only 1 to 10 md. Fig. 1 comes available for matching purposes.
shows a permeabfity distribution through reservoir
thickness, typical of these reef reservoirs. One-dimen- Field ‘%” — Crestal Gas Injection
sional (vertical), transient two- and three-phase flow The question often arises as to when it is necessa~ to

Oil Saturation —

k , millidarcles

o 20
, 100 120 140
40 60 80 ‘r
100 -


z“ 200 “

300 -

Pig. l—Reef reservoirdescription. Fig.2—Reef reservoirprediction.
simulate in three dimensions as opposed to two or tor. Consider the heterogeneous oil or gas field shown
even one dmension. Inclusion of flow in the third in Fig. 4. A two-dimensional grid is superimposed for
(nearly vertical) direction is often recommended only computing purposes. Estimated values of kh and #h
if reservoir thickness is “large” in relation to areal are given for each block, along with the locations of
extent or if pronounced heterogeneity exists in the producing wells and a lease lime.We assume a single-
vertical direction (ii, for example, there is high strati- phase, semisteady-state flow regime and a closed res-
fication), The recommendation may be helpful in ervoir, i.e., a negligible water drive. The semisteady-
some cases, but certainly is not biiding. The following state assumption implies that at any given time, the
example of a three-dimensional problem is a some- rate of pressure decline (~p/~f) is about the same at
what generalized and simplided version of an actual all spatial points in the field. The first question is:
field study. The problem was to estimate oil recovery What is the net drainage or flow rate across the lease
by crestal gas injection in a steeply dipping reservoir. line for given producing rates of all wells? Examina-
The reservoir sand was only 40 ft thick and was clean tion and elementary manipulation on the finite differ-
and unusually isotropic (see Fig. 3). Permeability was ence form of the equation describing the two-dimm-
low at the southern boundary and increased uniform- sional flow shows that the answer is entirely inde-
ly toward the northern boundary. pendent of the kh distribution or level and of the well
Neither gas injection nor oil production wells were locations or individual rates. The answer depends
equally spaced or symmetrically located. The areal only upon the total producing rates and pore volumes
heterogeneity, along with nonuniform well spacing, of each lease. In fact, the drainage rate from Lease I
dictated simulation of flow at least in the two areal to Lease 11is simply
(x-y) directions. In spite of the small sand thickness
and homogeneity in the vertical direction, simulation 91+11 = 911 –~
of flow in that direction was also required. The reason
was the low relative permeabfity to oil in the low and where
middle oil saturation range (an example, again, of the
gravity drainage problem). The injected gas overrode 9 = total field producing rate,
and bypassed the oil, leaving appreciable amounts of total Lease II producing rate
911 =

oil behind the gas front. This oil slowly drained down- v, = total field pore volume, and
VPII = total Lease II pore volume.
dip and normal to the bedding planes. This vertical
gravity drainage of oil was an important mechanism Thus drainage is zero if each lease produces in pro-
in the recovery and could not be accounted for in an portion to its pore volume. This same result can be
areal, two-dimensional (x-y) calculation. obtained by using Green’s theorem in conjunction
with the differential equation describing flow in a
Field ‘W” — Lease-Line Drainage two-dimensional heterogeneous reservoir. Actually,
The question of lease-line drainage leads to an inter- the result can be obtained by simple reasoning, utiliz-
esting application of the numerical reservoir simula- ing the definition of semisteady state, which implies

? Gas injection well

Y o Oil production well

High Permeability

? ●


c ●
Y o Producing Weii

Low Permeability . Lease I L~ase IZ

Gas-~ii contact during injection


‘Lease -iine

Fig. 3-A three-dimensionalfiow probiem. Fig. 4-Oii or gas field with two leases.

NOVEMBER, 1969 1395

a uniform depletion rate per unit pore space over the model. Equal\y valid answers would be obtained at
entire field. appreciably lower”man and machine cost and in a
Whereas Eq. 1 appears trivial or immediately ob- shorter time.
vious, a somewhat more diflicult answer to obtain is A general rnle that should be, but seldom is, fol-
the net drainage rate for a given backpressure P,o lowed is “select the least complicated model and
where all well production rates are given by grossest reservoir description that will allow the de-
sired estimation of reservoir performance”. Following
(I (kh)ij (pij — pfo) , t . . . (2) is a case in point. A recently discovered oil reservoir
with no initial gas cap and negligible water drive has
been produced under natural depletion, Pressure has
producing rate of well located in Grid fallen below bubble point. A wmpany is considering
Block i, j drilling one or several additional wells along a lease
constant line to offset drainage believed to be occurring. The
kh of Block i, j
average pressure in Block i, j problem is to estimate the extent of drainage under
current conditions and to estimate the effect of one
Again, the answer is independent of the kh distribu- or more additional wells. Lhtle information is avail-
tion, but is dependent upon the individual (kh)ij able regarding reservoir heterogeneity normal to the
values where wells are located. A simple answer can- bedding planes, The use of a two- or three-dimen-
not be given for this case. However, computer solu- sional, two-phase (gas-oil) flow model has been pro-
tion of the two-dimensional, single-phase, semisteady- posed. It appears that a two-dimensional areal (x-y),
state flow equation gives the answer in less than 1 single-phase flow calculation should be employed in
second of computing time on a, high-speed digital this case, first, because a single-phase fiow study is
computer. considerably easier to conduct and requires much less
computer time than a two-phase flow study, and sec-
Misuse of Reservoir Models ond, because the extent of depletion below the bubble
A kind of “overkill” is the most frequent misuse of point has been such that probably only a few percent
reservoir models. Just a few years ago we made deci- free gas saturation exists in the reservoir. This free
sions regarding reservoir petiormance using only the gas, even if above critical saturation (i.e., mobile),
tools of judgment and the conventional (zero-dimen- should play a negligible role in the direction or rate
sional) material balance, or perhaps a one-dimen- of oil drainage across the lease line. Strictly speaking,
sional Buckley-Levereti analysis, Now, almost over- the problem involves two-phase flow. But wnsidering
night it seems, questions regarding reservoir Perform- the question being asked, a single-phase flow calcula-
ance can only be answered by performing two- or tion would undoubtedly be sufficient.
three-dimensional simulations of two- or three-phase The necessity for a fine grid is sometimes argued
flow, in several thousand blocks. Recently we have on the grounds that accuracy is lost by placing wells
been told that even the three-phase (water, “oil”, in adjacent grid blocks. That is, the grid must be
“gas”) system is insu5cient and should be replaced sufficiently fine that at least one “empty” grid block
in many cases by a multiwmponent calculation ac- separates blocks wntaining wells. This is not neces-
wunting for flow and interphase transfer of 10 or sarily true; in fact, in some cases more than one well
more hydrocarbon components.1°-’2 This introduc- can be placed in a single block. As an illustration
tion of multicomponent phase behavior can result in (taken from Ref. 13), Fig. 5 shows two producing
computing times about 100 times greater than those wells in a square, closed reservoir, 18,000 ft on a side.
required for the basic three-phase flow calculation. Two single-phase, semisteady-state calculations were
Too often we automatically apply to a problem the performed using 9X9 and 3X 3 grids. In the former
most sophisticated and complex calculation tool avail- case, two blocks separated those containing the wells,
able. Typically, grid sizes are used that are smaller whereas in the latter case, the wells were in adjacent
than justified by available information wncerning blocks. A common flowing well pressure was specfied
reservoir properties. Often the reasons given for fine for both wells. Total field producing rate was specified
grid structure have little basis in fact. In she% the as 5,000 Mcf/D, and the two-dimensional” calcula-
overkill referred to here is the application of models tions determined (1) pressure distribution, (2) each
accounting for m-phase flow using n grid blocks where well’s contribution to the total rate, and (3) the gas
questions wuld be equally well answered using a in place (or average field pressure level) necessary
model describing m-l or even m-2 phase flow in a to meet the required total field rate. The results are
grid of n/2 or rz/3 blocks. summarized in Table 1. The loss in accuracy due to
This is not meant to imply that there is no need for the use of 9 as opposed to 81 grid blocks is clearly
small-grid-element, three-dimensional simulations, or negligible.
for multiphase flow calculation accounting for multi- Often a wnsiderable amount of wmputing time
component mass transfer. There have been well can be saved in a study if the minimum required defi-
founded threedimensional studies and ill-conceived nition is determined at the outset, This involves re-
one-dimensional simulations and more than one prob- peated runs using fewer blocks until resolution is lost
lem has been faced in which a muhiphase, multicom- concerning the facets of field performance being
ponent phase behavior calculation would have been estimated.
welcome. However, the use of engineering judgment Reservoir models are also misapplied when there
in many cases would dictate the use of a less complex is gross uncertainty regarding input data that critical-

TABLE 1—EFFECTOF GRfID SIZE ON CALCULATED thickness, and (2) no segregation exists (i.e., fluid
saturations are uniform throughout tke thickness). In
Grid Deliverability
(Mcf/D) Gas[nPlace
the latter case, laborato~-derived rock relative per-
Size Well1 ,. Well2 {Mcf) meability, as well as capillary pressure curves, should
9x9 3732.8 1258.1 68,869,784 be used in the areal calculation. In the former case,
3x3 3723.1 1274.8 68,897,904 pseudo relative permeability curves and capillary
pressure curves, reflecting the state of segregation,
ly affect computed results. Let us take as an example should be employed.z In most cases, the assumption
a recent study of oil recovery by gas injection in a of segregation is more nearly correct than the assump-
dipping cross-section (two-dimensional vertical slice). tion of uniform saturations, but in many cases neither
Initially, relative permeability and other reservoir data assumption is valid. If neither assumption is valid,
were rather crudely estimated and a considerable then (1) a three-dimensional calculation should be
number of runs were performed to investigate the performed, or (2) totally empirical pseudo curves for
effect of injection rate on recovery. Subsequent sensi- areal calculations should be determined. These cumes,
tivity studies showed these early computed results to when used in one-dimensional areal calculations,
be largely meaningless for the following reason. The should res:dt in agreement with two-dimensional
answers obtained were entirely dependent upon the cross-sectional calculations using laboratory curves.
oil relative permeability curve employed. And vari- Fig. 6 illustrates the error in computed results,
ations of it weIl within the range of uncertainty gave caused by the use of laboratory relative permeabfity
significantly different estimates of oil recovery. The and capillary pressure curves in an areal study where
computed recovery was almost totally insensitive to the assumption of segregation is nearly correct. This
gas relative permeability and capilla,~ pressure curves figure shows depth-averaged gas saturation vs dis-
and to reservoir porosity. Also, resenroir permeability tance along a dipping (3°) cross-section, The gas was
had an insignificant effect within a reasonable range injected at the crest into the initially oil-saturated for-
of uncertainty. Having isolated the particular data of mation. The vertical slice is 800 ft long and 25 ft
importance (oil relative permeability cwve) we per- thick. A two-dimensional cross-sectional (x-z) calcu-
formed considerable laborato~ work to determine it, lation was performed using laboratory relative perme-
Subsequent computer runs were then believed to yield ability and capillary pressure cumes. The calculated
reliable estimates of oil recovery and the quantitative gas saturations were then depth-averaged and plotted
effect of rate on recovery. This overriding importance as the solid line in Fig. 6. This is the “correct” answer.
of the oil relative permeability curve is typical, of The triangular points correspond to a one-dimen-
course, in problems where oil recove~ is dominated sional calculation that utilized laboratory relative per-
by the gravity drainage process. meability and capillary pressure curves. These curves
Erroneous use of reservoir models occasionally correspond to the assumption that fluid saturation is
occurs in two-dimensional areal studies. The error in- uniform throughout the thickness. The circular points
volves inadequate representation of fluid saturation correspond to a one-dimensional areal calculation
distributions through the thickness of tile ‘wxvoir, that used pseudo curves reflecting the assumption of
An areal calculation, as opposed to a ‘- aiimen- gravitaticmal-capilla~ equilibrium (i.e., segregation)
sional calculation is justified in the two lil,ild]g cases throughout the thickness. The use of these pseudo
when (1) fluids are completely segregated (i.e., gravi- curves in the areal calculation gives a far more accu-
tational-capillary equilibrium exists) throughout the rate result than does the use of the laboratory curves.

Y X well # I
4 0 well #2
I 1 I I I 1
9 ---1--f’ J-w
--L-k- - -i ----
8 :! ]1 II
-- +-+.. --r-; -- -- f-+--
7 II I I
1 t
— 20x5 Calcdotion, Rock
6 :1 1: I Curves
-;- .& 1
--~-+ -- -+-1--
5 Ixl (7 1A‘A A--h 20x I Coiculotion,!?och
~ --p+- - ‘-T-; -- --&- Cuwes
g 0.30 N 0 20x I Colculotion,
t I 11
I i= ‘4 Pseudo Curves
3 ●I=:
-- J.-+-.
II ;; 2 %

-.-l--h” “-p-- g 0.20

2 :~. :.
IJl ‘%%
, -* , q-o- -.-:O:; “ :-1::- m
~ 0.10
i 23456789x \\
i nLLL. , , , A , ,
140 300 460 620 7;0

Fig. 5—9 x 9 and 3 x 3 grids. Fig. 6-Comparison of saturation profiias at Time = 360
days for 800Jt x 254t cross-sectionunder gas injeetion.

PKWFMBEK1969. : .::.’.”.”.. “.: j .“.. :::”” 1397

areai (x-y) eaicuiation to simulate three-dimensional
Conclusion flow in rerxxvoirs.
Error in numerical simulation of reservoir perform-
ance results from truncation error and from ittaccu- Referentw
racies in reservoir description or other input data. 1. J#ugias, J., Jr., Peaeeman,D. W. and”ItachfordjH. H,,
The presence of appreciable truncation error can gen- “A Methodfor CalculatingMulti-Dimcnsiona!
● lm-
~neible Displacement”,Trans., AIME ( 19S9) 216, 297-
erally be determined by noting the sensitivity of cai- .
cufated performance to changes in spatiai and time 2. Stone,H. L. and Qerder, A. O., Jr.: “Analysisof Gas-
increment sizes. Adequate accuracy of input data is Cap or DMolved-GasDrive Reservoirs”,Sm. Pet. Erzg.
). (June, 1961) 92-104.
indicated by insignificant variations in computed res- 3. Sheldon;J. W., Harris, C. D. and Bavly, D.: “A Method
ervoir performance caused by variations in the input for C?eneralReservoirBehaviorSimulationon Digital
data over the ranges of uncertainty. The mathemati- Corn utcrs”,paper 1S21-(3presentedat SPE 35th AnnuaJ
Fall keting, Denver, Colo., Oct. 2-5, 1960.
cal model can be used in many cases to determine 4. ~& K, H~jNielscnj R. L,; Tcrhunc, M. H. and Weber,
which particular input data should be determined “Simulationof Three-Dimensional,Two-Phase

accurately. Fjowin Oil and Gas Reservoirs”,Sot. Pet. Eng. J. (Dec.,

1967) 377-388.
The complex interactions of capillary, gravitational 5. Coak, K. H.: “An Analysis for Simulatin Reservoir Per-
and viscous forces reflected in the calculated reservoir formance Under Pressure Maintenance %y Gas and/or
performance often result in flow patterns or perform- Water Inicction”. Sot. Pet. Em. 1. (Dec., 1968) 331-340.
ance characteristics that are of considerable educa- 6. Coats, K; H.: ‘;A Mathematical Modei for &mulating
Three-Dimensional Three-Phase Fluid Flow in Reser-
tional value. voirs”, The U. of Texes, Austin (Nov., 1968).
Valid application of reservoir simulation models 7. Hcndemon, J. H., Dcmpsc , J. R. and Tyler, J. C.: “U*
generaiiy possess the foiiowing three features (I) a of Numerical Reservoir &dcls to Develop and Operate
well posed question of economic importance (such as Ga;6StoragcReservoirs”,J. Pet. Tech. (Nov., 1968) 1239-
“Should oil be recovered under natural depletion as 8. Coat&K, H,: “A Treatment of the Gas Percolation Prob-
opposed to water injection?”, “What are the best loca- lem in Simulation of Three-Dimensional, Three-Phsse
tions for additional weiis to maximize incremental Flow in Reservoirs”, Sot. Pet. Eng, J, (Dec., 1968) 413-
field deliverability per dollar of additkmai invest- 9. McCulloch, R. C., Langton, J, R. and Spivak, A,: “Simu-
ment?”), (2) adequate accuracy of reservoir descrip- lation of High Relief Reservoirs,Rainbow Field, Alberta,
tion and other required input data, and (3) strong de- Canada”, 1. Pet. Tech. (Nov., 1969) 1399-1408.
pendence of the answer to the question upon non- 10. Roebuck, I. F,, Henderson, G. E., Douglas, J., Jr., and
Ford, T. W.: “The Compositional Res#voir Stimulato~
equilibrium, generally time-dependen$ spatial dis- Case I—The Linear Model”, Sot. Pet. Eng. J. (March,
tributions of pressure and fluid saturations. This 1969) 115-130,
dependence renders meaningless the conventional 11.Roebuck, L F., J-Jendcrson,~. E., Douglas, J,, Jr. and
Ford, T, W.: “The Compositional Reservoir Simufatofi
material balance calculations. Case IV — The Two-Dimensional Model”, paper SPE
A frequent misuse of reservoir models is the ap- 2235 presented at SPE 43rd Annual Fall Meeting, Hous-
plication of one that is more complex or sophisticated ton, Tex., Sept. 29-CM. 2, 1968.
than the problem warrants, which can greatly increase 12. Gondouin, M., Cancvet, (3. and Knizzcff,V.: “A Com-
itional Three-Phase, Three- Dmcnsional Reservoir
the required man and machine time. In general, we ~del”, pawr SPE 2236 prcscntcd at SPE 43rd Annual
should apply the least sophisticated model and largest Fall Meeting, Houston, Tcx,, Sept. 29-Ott. 2, 1968.
grid size that wiil yield an adequate estimate of field 13.Coats, K. H.: “An Approach to Locating New Wellsin
Heterogeneous,Gas Producing Fields”, J. Pet. Tech.
performance. Application of models in cases where (hhy, 1969) 549-588. JPT
critical input data are poorly known constitutes an-
Manuscript recolved In Socloty of Petroleum Engineers offlos
other misuse. Flnaiiy, care should be exercised in w- Feb. 6, 1969. PaPar (SPE 2367) was prasented at SPE Gas Tech.
spect to the relative permeability and capiiiary pres- nolosy and PorlpheraJ Waterfloodlng Symposium held In Llbaral,
Kans., Nov. 14.15, 1966. @ Copyright 1969 Amerfcan Instltuto of
sure curves employed when using a two-dmensionai Mlnlng, Motallurglcal, and Patroloum Englncora, Inc.