Analyzing the Impacts of Discretization and Meshing in Numerical Simulation of Unconventional Reservoirs

  • Author / Creator
    Xu, Ziming
  • The discrete fracture network (DFN) model is widely used to simulate and represent the complex fractures occurring over multiple length scales. However, computational constraints often necessitate that these DFN models be upscaled into a dual-porosity dual-permeability (DPDK) model and discretized over a corner-point grid system, which is still commonly implemented in many commercial simulation packages. Many analytical upscaling techniques are applicable, provided that the fracture density is high, but this condition generally does not hold in most unconventional reservoir settings. A particular undesirable outcome is that connectivity between neighboring fracture cells could be erroneously removed if the fracture plane connecting the two cells is not aligned along the meshing direction.
    In this work, a novel scheme is proposed to detect such misalignments and to adjust the DPDK fracture parameters locally, such that the proper fracture connectivity can be restored. A search subroutine is implemented to identify any diagonally adjacent cells whose connectivity has been erroneously removed during the upscaling step. A correction scheme is implemented to facilitate a local adjustment to the shape factors in the vicinity of these two cells while ensuring the local fracture intensity remains unaffected. The results are assessed in terms of the stimulated reservoir volume calculations, and the sensitivity to fracture intensity is analyzed.
    The method is tested on a set of tight oil models constructed based on properties representative of the Bakken formation. Simulation results of the corrected, upscaled models are closer to those of DFN simulations. There is a noticeable improvement in the production after restoring the connectivity between those previously disconnected cells. The difference is most significant in cases with medium DFN density, where more fracture cells become disconnected after upscaling (this is also when most analytical upscaling techniques are no longer valid); in some 2D cases, up to a 22% difference in cumulative production is recorded. The method is subsequently applied to simulate fracturing fluid flowback and the effects of non-planar hydraulic fractures. The results show a significant improvement in the restoration of the fracture connectivity and the ensuing fracture fluid recovery efficiency. Ignoring the impacts of mesh discretization could result in an unintended reduction in the simulated fracture connectivity and a considerable underestimation of the cumulative production.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.