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Theoretical Screening Criteria and Real Field EOR Practices Using Machine

Learning Algorithms

Mohammadali Tarrahi, and Sardar Afra, Texas A&M University, Irina Surovets, SPD; Irina Surovets, SPD

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Russian Petroleum Technology Conference held in Moscow, Russia, 26 28 October 2015.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents

of the paper have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect

any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written

consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may

not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract

To make promising operational decisions for reservoir exploitation, oil and gas industry relies heavily on

predicting the performance of various enhanced recovery processes. Decisions on recovery strategies

should be taken in an early stage of field development planning. To select an appropriate recovery

technique based on reservoir and fluid characteristics, EOR screening criteria are used as a reliable

decision making approach. A dependable first order screening evaluation algorithm enables critical

decision making on potential enhanced oil recovery strategies with the limited reservoir information.

In this study, we propose to solve the EOR screening problem by machine learning or pattern

recognition methods, which are well-established in computer science literature. We perform a compre-

hensive study on the application of various machine learning methods such as Bayesian Classifier,

K-nearest Neighbor Classifier, Minimum Mean Distance Classifier, and Artificial Neural Networks.

The proposed data-driven screening algorithm is a high-performance tool to select an appropriate EOR

method such as steam injection, combustion, miscible injection of CO2 and N2, based on different

reservoir and fluid properties such as permeability, depth, API, and viscosity. In this innovative approach,

we integrate both theoretical screening principles such as Taber criteria and successful field EOR practices

worldwide. Not only this algorithm proposes an appropriate EOR method for a specific reservoir condition

but it also gives the probability of success or success rate corresponding to each EOR method. In addition,

the proposed algorithm is able to address environmental, economical, geographical and technological

limitations.

The proposed algorithm permits integration of different types of data, eliminates arbitrary approach in

making decisions, and provides accuracy and fast computation. The suitability of the proposed method is

demonstrated by different synthetic and real field EOR cases. This novel EOR screening method is

capable of evaluating the effectiveness of different EOR scenarios given a specific reservoir condition. We

showed that the proposed EOR screening algorithm is able to predict the appropriate EOR method

correctly in more than 90% of cases. We also ranked the proposed screening algorithms based on their

screening performance.

2 SPE-176725-MS

Introduction

Acquiring a suitable enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method based on a given set of reservoir and fluid

properties and any additional data is referred to as EOR screening. EOR projects have been performed

more than ever as a result of the continuous fall in the conventional oil production (Taber et al. 1997).

Thus, selecting the best recovery technique becomes the choice of interest for oil and gas industry and

reservoir engineers (Taber et al. 1997). Furthermore, expertise along with many assumptions, structures

and relations among reservoir and fluid characteristics and features are needed to obtain an efficient EOR

technique in each EOR screening scenario.

EOR screening has been first introduced by Taber et al. (Taber and Martin 1997) in which all EOR

screening criteria have been briefly summarized in a table and each EOR method spectrum has been

graphically determined in order to obtain and execute an efficient EOR technique for all types of reservoir

with various fluid and rock properties. The performance of the computer-assisted programs for EOR

screening is highly tied to the accuracy of the input data utilized. Therefore, Taber revisited the EOR

criteria on his later works and proposed EOR screening criteria based on field results and oil recovery

mechanisms which offer more realistic parameters for automated EOR tools in reservoir management

(Taber et al. 1997). Although, computer-assisted algorithms have attracted researchers from various

engineering and science fields such as chemical engineering (Emrani et al. 2011 and 2012), little work has

been don in developing automated EOR screening. While introducing new EOR techniques is very critical

to improve the existing EOR schemes, a need for providing a more reliable and structured screening

techniques becomes inevitable (Emrani et al. 2015; Afra and Nasr El-Din 2015).

In recent years, reservoir management has evolved to a more structured paradigm, in which reservoir

production strategies can be optimized simultaneously with assimilation of new production information in

a real-time fashion (Jafarpour et al. 2011; Tarrahi et al. 2013, and 2015). Employing machine learning and

big data analytics helped petroleum engineers to obtain more reliable, accurate and cost efficient methods

in reservoir management including EOR screening. Many works have been done in literature to apply such

artificial intelligence techniques in many aspects of petroleum engineering like reservoir simulation,

production optimization, field development and history matching. For instance, a very comprehensive set

of studies have been conducted by authors in the field of automated history matching and reservoir

parameterization by introducing a novel parameterization method through tensor algebra (Afra et al. 2013

and 2014; Gildin et al. 2014). Anaother work by authors (Afra et al. 2011) also showed the suitability of

supervised classification algorithms for high dimensional small sample data sets.

Automated EOR screening through artificial intelligence has recently been addressed in the literature.

Various machine learning techniques have been proposed to facilitate the automated EOR screening

procedures including artificial neural networks (ANN), genetic algorithm (GA) and Bayesian networks

(BN). Alvarado et al. (Alvarado et al. 2002) employed machine learning algorithms, e.g., clustering, and

dimensionality reduction methods to extract information from a worldwide EOR/IOR data set to acquire

desired screening. Parada and Ertekin (Parada and Ertekin 2012) developed a neural network based

simulation tool to deliver general EOR screening criteria for variety of recovery schemes which provided

a new design for steam injection recovery projects. Zerafat et al. (Zerafat et al. 2011) used Bayesian

network analysis to come up with a unified expert system that assist further economical and environmental

assessments through classifying suitable EOR methods. Of special interest in this paper is to study the

performance of different pattern recognition algorithms in solving EOR screening problem. A compre-

hensive comparison is also provided on the performance of the classifiers with respect to the correspond-

ing average correct classification rate (ACCR).

The paper is organized as follows. In the next section, the classification framework and designing

proper classifiers are briefly introduced. Data collection Section describes how EOR screening data

collected and integrated into the proposed automated EOR screening schemes. Also, the probabilistic

SPE-176725-MS 3

process of synthetic data generation is explained in details. In results and discussion section experiment

results are presented and explained in details for 9 different EOR methods in a 9-dimentional feature space

of reservoir properties and then all results are compared with respect to the ACCR. Finally, last section

concludes several remarks of the work and proposes best classification method along with some

guidelines for the future work by authors regarding the effect of feature selection and feature conditioning

on the performance of automated EOR screening.

Methodology

In order to demonstrate the main concepts developed in the present work, we will briefly describe the

classification problem. Eager readers may refer to the machine learning and pattern recognition resources

to get more thorough understanding of the classification paradigm and its application in energy sector. We

start by describing classification rule and then continue by introducing the most applicable classifiers in

EOR screening.

Classification

In machine learning and statistics, the problem of recognizing the label or class of a new incoming

unknown input given a training set of observations with known labels is referred to as classification. In

this case, the classification problem would be based on a supervised learning in which a set of properly

labeled and known training data is available. On the other hand, in the lack of such labeled observation,

the unknown data set is categorized based on a specific measure like distance or data similarity which is

known as clustering (Alpaydin 2010; Devroye et al. 1996; Webb et al. 2011).

Classifier

In two-group statistical pattern recognition, there is a feature vector X p and a label Y {1, 1}.

The pair (X, Y) has a joint probability distribution F, which is unknown in practice. Hence, one has to

resort to designing classifiers from training data, which consists of a set of n independent points Sn {(X1,

Y1), . . ., (Xn, Yn)} drawn from F. A classification rule is a mapping g: {p {0,1}}n p {0, 1}. A

classification rule maps the training data Sn into the designed classifier g (Sn,.): p {0,1}. A linear

discriminant classifier is given by Eq. 1:

(1)

Therefore, all training points are correctly classified if Yi(aTXi a0) 0, i 1, . . ., n where yi {1,

1} (Afra et al. 2011).

Of special interest in the present work is to employ pattern recognition tools specifically Bayesian

classifiers to rank the probability of success for all possible EOR schemes for a given reservoir with

specified fluid and rock properties. One may choose the best EOR method for a given reservoir based on

the outcome of this automated screening, known as expert system, and considering the non-learning

parameters outside the training set, e.g., reservoir heterogeneity, production history to name a few, which

either are not a quantity or not included in Taber table. In this paper, in order to perform a computer

assisted EOR screening, we utilized 9 different classification rules including Bayes optimal classification,

neural network, support vector machines, k-nearest neighbors, Gaussian mixture, Gaussian, Nave Bayes,

decision tree and RBF. For the sake of time and space, here we only describe support vector machines.

Eager readers may refer to (Devroye et al. 1996; Webb et al. 2011) for more details on the different

classification methods as well as error estimation analysis.

Linear Support Vector Machines

The main idea in support vector machine is to adjust linear discrimination with margins such that the

margin is maximalthis is called the Maximal Margin Hyperplane (MMH) algorithm. Those points

4 SPE-176725-MS

closest to the hyperplane are called the support vectors and determine a lot of the properties of the

classifier.

Linear Discrimination with Margin

If we want to have a margin b 0, the constraint becomes Yi (aT Xi a0) b for i 1, . . ., n. The

optimal classification solution to this problem puts all points at a distance at least b/||a|| from the

hyperplane. Since a, a0 and b can be freely scaled, without loss of generality we can set b 1, therefore

we have Yi (aT Xi a0) 1, for i 1, . . ., n. The margin is 1/||a|| and the points that are at this exact

distance from the hyperplane are called support vectors. The idea here is to maximize the margin 1/||a||.

For this, it suffices to minimize subject to the constraints Yi (aT Xi a0) 1, for i 1, . . ., n.

The solution vector a* determines the MMH. The corresponding optimal value is determined later from

a* and the constraints.

Non-Separable Data

If the data is not linearly separable, it is still possible to formulate the problem and find a solution by

introducing slack variables i i 1, . . ., n, for each of the constraints, resulting in a new set of 2n

constraints in Eq. 2:

(2)

Therefore, if i 0, the corresponding training point is an outlier, i.e., it can lie closer to the

hyperplane than the margin, or even be misclassified. We introduce a penalty term in the functional,

which then becomes Eq. 3:

(3)

The constant C modulates how large the penalty for the presence of outliers is. If C is small, the penalty

is small and a solution is more likely to incorporate outliers. If C is large, the penalty is large and therefore

a solution is unlikely to incorporate many outliers. The method of Lagrange multipliers allows one to find

the solution to this problem and the corresponding MMH. Eager readers may see (Devroye et al. 1996;

Webb et al. 2011) for more details.

Bayesian Classification

As mentioned previously, in many classification approaches the goal is to construct a map from the

feature space to the space of labeled class. In fact, in such cases a classification rule explicitly maps

training data into a designed classifier. Decision trees and neural networks are good examples of such

classifiers. However, Bayesian classification approach slightly differs from others. As a matter of fact, in

the Bayesian approach, the joint probability distribution of the class and feature has to be estimated.

Given an n-dimensional random variable describing the feature space, X, and a random variable, C,

representing class space, the problem is to estimate the following conditional probability function utilizing

Bayes rule in Eq. 4.

(4)

Wherein D is the training set. Therefore, learning process in Bayesian classification turns to a joint

probability distribution function approximation. Then, a new incoming data can be classified only by

calculating the conditional probability of class space variables vector given the corresponding features

vector (reservoir and fluid properties) which obtain the most probable class (proper EOR method) through

the constructed estimation in the learning process.

For the sake of simplicity and without losing generality, assume a two-class classification problem. In

this case we are interested in classifying any incoming data through identifying its label and consequently

the correct class of the data based on the joint probability distribution and feature space probability. The

SPE-176725-MS 5

Bayes rules suggest to calculate the all a posteriori probabilities, P(ci|X), and then assign the data to the

class with highest probability Eq. 5.

(5)

Wherein, P(ci) is the prior probability of the class lables that can be easily estimated from the training

data. Now, Bayes classification rules can be stated as follows. An incoming instance is assigned to class

ci if the posterior probability of that class given the features is greater that of the second class. Thus,

considering Bayes rule the problem of classification shrinks to estimating class-conditional probability

density function, P(X|ci). The most important point to be noted here is to minimize the misclassification

probability or the classification error probability. Misclassification probability consists of two terms in

case of two-class problem. First term is the probability of classifying unknown data to c1 although it

belongs to c2 and the second term would be stated vice versa. Thus Eq. 6,

(6)

Now, employing chain rule, one can write the following Eq. 7

(7)

(8)

Considering equation 8 one may select the decision regions in feature space as follows Eq. 9

(9)

Hence, the Bayesian classifier is optimal in minimizing classification error probability. For more

details on Bayesian classification and probability density function estimation see (Alpaydin 2010,

Devroye et al. 1996; Webb et al. 2011).

Confusion Matrix

In the field of machine learning, the performance of a supervised classifier is monitored by means of

confusion matrix. A confusion matrix actually is a counter array of size C C, size of the class space,

at which any classification step is recorded. Each row represents an actual class while each column

represents a predicted class. Once a classification is proceed to assign an unknown input to a class, the

corresponding entry in the confusion matrix is increased by one. The ideal classifier is the one that its

corresponding confusion matrix is a diagonal matrix in which all entries outside the main diagonal is zero.

Considering confusion matrix, correct classification rate can be determined as follows Eq. 10

(10)

One has to note that a legitimate error estimator always should be calculated based on the test data sets

not the training data. The next session describes data collection process and explains how synthetic data

are generated based on real reservoir data sets and Taber criteria table.

Data Collection

This section explains how the required training and test data sets are generated utilizing real EOR data

sets. Here, in automated EOR screening, a combination of Taber table, successful EOR projects and prior

knowledge about the reservoir are employed to generate training data in a 9-dimentional feature space. We

choose oil gravity (API), oil viscosity (cp), oil composition, oil saturation, formation type, net thickness

(ft), permeability (md), reservoir depth (ft), temperature (F) as the selection properties or the members

of feature space. Also, the classes of the classification problem are chosen to be the following EOR

6 SPE-176725-MS

techniques including Nitrogen and flue gas, hydrocarbon, CO2, immiscible gases, micellar/polymer, ASP

and Alkaline flooding, polymer flooding, combustion, steam, and surface mining. A multivariable joint

probability density function (PDF) is employed in order to generate the synthetic realistic training data set

based on a real data set of 7 features (continuous features) and 8 classes. Table 1 summarized the

class-sample information of the 744 real EOR projects. Using such a joint PDF helps us to avoid

generating biased data points in feature space and it also makes sure to pick the most reperesentative

samples and cover thoroughly the feature space (all possible reservoir and fluid properties as the input).

Table 1Class-sample information sheet for all EOR projects before and after outlier removal process.

No. of actual samples in each class

Hydrocarbon 103 100

CO2 164 151

Micellar/polymer, ASP and Alkaline Flooding 3 3

Polymer Flooding 59 54

Combustion 24 24

Steam 371 327

This is of critical importance, since a biased data set can results in a completely wrong classification

and consequently a wrong EOR screening decision. Furthermore the designed classifer will have

promising generalization power and can be applied to a wide range of new unseen cases. Another

significant note in using real EOR data sets is the correlation between some of the features impedes the

independence assumptions. In fact, since features are correlated, one may not easily generate data points

for each feature using a 1D distribution and then combine the corresponding results to form a 9-dimen-

tional data point based on independence assumption. Thus, we assumed correlation between temperature,

viscosity, depth and oil gravity and so there would be 6 different combinations of correlation coefficients

between these features. Fig. 1 shows the corresponding scatter plots of the 4 aforementioned correlated

features required to determine correlation coefficients.

SPE-176725-MS 7

Figure 1Scatter plots corresponding to paired correlation coefficients for temperature, depth, viscosity, oil gravity.

In the present work, 9 data sets of size 1000 samples are generated for all 9 classes, i.e., EOR methods

represents the classes here. In order to create training and test data sets, one third of the samples, 300

8 SPE-176725-MS

samples, used as test samples and the rest utilized to train classifiers. We utilized uniform and triangular

distribution to generate data sets though a Monte Carlo simulation. The Latin hypercube sampling (LHS)

is employed to perform sampling step in an efficient Monte Carlo simulation and to achieve reasonably

accurate random distribution. After generating data points, the calculated correlation coefficients have to

be applied to make the final samples that are correlated random variables.

Data Preprocessing

In the field of statistical pattern recognition, in order to prevent a high variability in measurement or

experimental error, an observation point is defined that is referred to as outlier. An Outlier is a point that

lies very far from the mean of the corresponding random variable. This distance is measured with respect

to a given threshold, usually a number of times the standard deviation. For a normally distributed random

variable a distance of two times the standard deviation covers 95% of the points, and a distance of three

times the standard deviation covers 99% of the points (Grubbs 1969). Here, we removed outliers to cover

99% of the data points which is 678 out of 744 real EOR projects. Table 1 also summarized the results

of outlier removal process for the class-sample information data sheet.

Results and Discussion

In the following section EOR screening results of all classifiers are presented and the performances of

these classifiers are compared with respect to average correct classification rate (ACCR) defined in

Equation (10). Table 2 summarized all the results for the classifiers regarding the ACCR. Based on the

results, Bayes optimal classifier with Gaussian parametric PDF estimator tends to have a better perfor-

mance to classify unknown data samples from test data set. Bayes optimal classifier aims at minimizing

the probability of classification error. The presented Bayesian classifier is designed with the assumption

of uniform a-priori distribution of classes (EOR methods) since a-priori there was no information on the

accessibility and strategic preference of different methods. However if one can designate prior class

distribution for instance based on the economic analysis, EOR method technological availability and

previously established success rate, classifier performance can be improved significantly. For instance by

assigning a more realistic a-priori class distribution (e.g. CO2 and steam injection are two of the most

applicable EOR methods, so they are assigned higher probability a-priori), ACCR can be improved to

%93.

Classifier ACCR training ACCR test

Bayes optimal classifier with Gaussian parametric PDF estimator N/A 0.9119

Bayes optimal classifier with Parzen non-parametric PDF estimator N/A 0.7226

Bayes optimal classifier with k-nearest neighbor PDF estimator k2 N/A 0.795

k-nearest neighbor classifier with k1 N/A 0.711

k-nearest neighbor classifier with k11 N/A 0.822

Minimum mean distance with Euclidean distance N/A 0.7722

Minimum mean distance with Manhattan distance N/A 0.6463

Minimum mean distance with Mahalanobis distance N/A 0.5441

Discriminant analysis with MATLAB function classify N/A 0.8652

Neural NetworksMulti layer perceptron/10 neurons 81.81 78.85

Neural NetworksMulti layer perceptron/20 neurons 89.93 87.04

Neural NetworksMulti layer perceptron/30 neurons 90.64 85.60

NNConjugate Gradient Learning/10 neurons hidden layer 84.08 81.51

Based on our analysis as shown in Table 2, Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) with 20 neurons in

hidden layer (multi-layer perceptron) has the second best classification performance. One of the pitfalls

SPE-176725-MS 9

of using ANN is overfitting phenomenon that is clearly shown in Table 2. By increasing the number of

hidden layer neurons (making the network more complicated and more flexible to fit to data), the training

data ACCR increases while the test data ACCR does not show a monotonic behavior. Because of

overfitting, the test data ACCR of ANN with 30 neurons is smaller than the one with 20 neurons.

Visualization of the training data in the feature space will give us great insight about the separation and

mixing of the classes and also the correlation between different features. It also proves how complex and

challenging the classification problem can be. To illustrate the challenge of EOR screening problem, we

should show the scatter plot of the training data (in the feature space) labeled by their corresponding

classes (or EOR methods). For illustration purposes we can only plot 2D or 3D scatter diagrams. We

choose to visualize the training data or training samples in 3D, Fig. 2 (in the space of depth, API and

viscosity) and 2D, Fig. 3 (in the space of depth and API) while the samples labels are specified by colored

markers.

Figure 23D visualization of the training data in the space of depth, API and viscosity.

10 SPE-176725-MS

Figure 32D visualization of the training data in the space of depth, API.

Conclusion

We performed a comprehensive study on the application of 9 different classifiers including Bayesian and

artificial neural networks, to deliver a better understanding of automated EOR screening based on real

EOR data sets. We also presented a complete performance comparison between the classifiers with respect

to average correct classification rate criteria. The analysis showed that Bayesian optimal classifier is the

most reliable one among all others with not only proposes an appropriate EOR method for a specific

reservoir condition but also gives the probability of success or success rate corresponding to each EOR

method. The proposed algorithm is able to address environmental, economical, geographical and tech-

nological limitations. Furthermore, the proposed technique permits integration of different types of data,

eliminates arbitrary approach in making decisions, and provides accuracy and fast computation. An

underway work by authors dedicated to the process of feature selection and feature conditioning process

in order to improve the classification performance.

References

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Decomposition (HOSVD). Presented at the 12th International Conference on Machine Learning

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Afra, S., Nasr El-Din, H. A., and Socci, D. et alet al. 2015. A novel viscosity reduction plant-based

diluent for heavy and extra heavy oil. Presented at the 65th Canadian Chemical Engineering

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Petroleum Engineers. doi: 10.2118/78332-MS

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