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Reservoir Simulation Models–
An Engineering Overview
H. M. Staggs, SPE-AIME,Atlantic RichfieldCo.
E. F. Herbeck, SPE-AIME,Atlantic RichfieldCo.

The multicell reservoir simulation models have
Basic Model Considerations
reached that stage of development at which they are Defining a Model
being passed from the hands of the scientists and Stated simply, a multicell model simulates fluid flow
mathematicians who originated them into the hands in an oil or gas reservoir. Models cannot describe
of the reservoir engineer for his everyday use. Whereas flow exactly as it occurs, but they do give valid ap-
numerous papers have been published describing the proximations. The mathematics of these models
theoretical aspects and mathematical approaches de- requires that the reservoir be treated as if it were
veloped for these models, this paper is intended as a composed of many individual segments. These seg-
look at multicell models from the engineer’s rather ments are usually called cells, but are also referred
than the scientist’s point of view. to as grids, nodes, mesh points, or a network. Models
Engineers are quickly realizing that these models are made to represent reservoir fluid flow from cell
are the best tool developed in recent years for under- to cell in one, two, or three dimensions and accord-
standing oil and gas reservoirs and predicting their ingly are termed one-dimensional, two-dimensional,
m..f,w.ln .Tlf.r=
1.. ”..1.1.. a reservoir hy dividing it or three-dimensional models. These are illustrated in
into cells provides a flexibility to the engineer that Figs. 1 through 3.
he never had before. High-speed computers permit Each cell is assigned its specific reservoir properties
multiple runs of a reservoir model to test different of size, porosity, permeability, elevation, pressure,
methods of field operations or to check the sensitivity and fluid saturations. In addition to cell properties,
of reservoir behavior to unknown rock or fluid well data must also be provided. These include loca-
properties. .:--
pl uuu&L1 Vlcy
;nAmv rlaci .c.A
AIIUS,A , “w..’ w=
~. “...
Qr j~je~-

The multicell models have many valid applications, tion rates, and limiting conditions such as economic
but they can also be misused because the model is limit, maximum water cut and GOR, and minimum
only providing answers that the input data are forcing bottom-hole flowing pressure. General fluid and rock
it to provide. Therefore, a careful analysis and selec- data must also be provided for the entire field or sec-
tion of input data is imperative. The engineer can tion of field being studied. These usually include PVT
usually obtain representative data on reservoir rock data for the oil, gas, and water; rock compressiiiility;
and fluid properties. The greater difficulty lies in and relative permeability for each flowing phase.
properly selecting such items as relative permeability, Models using PVT data for oil, gas, and water are
vertical permeability, and cell size. frequently referred to as “black-oil models.” Special

For the engineer with limited experience in using models, these case histories can be
helpful. They show that difficulties can arise with cross-section models and with improper
relative permeability data and that it’s easy to get carried away with your own jaked-in
input data. But they also show that, properly used, models can be a godsend.

“gasmodels” have been developed for the study of 4. Calculate the flow between cells during the time
gas reservoirs. In some models the hydrocarbons are step and the new saturation for each cell.
divided into components, in which case the term 5. Set a new time step and repeat the process until
“compositional model” is used. The reservoir engineer the model has calculated performance for the desired
will rarely use a compositional model because it is total time. High-speed computers are required for
more complex than is generally necessary. solving problems involved in a multicell model be-
A system of mathematical equations is used to cal- cause of the extremely large number of calculations
culate the flow between cells and the fluid saturation made in a typical study.
and volumes in each cell. The equations used are
derived from: (1) the continuity equation or mass The Need for Engineering Judgment
balance, (2) Darcy’s law of flow through porous Certain judgment decisions must be made by the engi-
media, and (3) equation of state. neer before and during modei runs. Tine engineer
Finite-difference methods are used to solve the must match the solution that is required with the most
model equations. The methods do not give exact an- economical model that will do the job. The more
swers and are recognized as having some inherent complex the model, the longer the time required to
error.l’ z The reservoir engineer sbouici be aware of Ccmpiete t}le SLUUy. T+,.
.-4.. -I..
“ .3. -L
““ .x-L.* fif A“mian -
am nuliluw. “1 “L.w.l

these potential errors, even though for the most part sions and cells strongly influence running time. It is
he will not be too concerned with them because the quite often necessary to make preliminary model runs
mathematical approaches in modeling are still gen- to determine what dimensions and cell count will
erally more accurate than the engineer’s ability to ultimately be required.
refine the. input data, In multicell modeling, representative basic data are
indispensable. If little basic data are available, the
How Models Work engineer must decide whether more should be gath-
A simplfied calculation procedure used by a model ered — whether, for example, wells should be drilled
would be as follows: to take fresh cores for analysis or to obtain such basic
1. Start with the cells’ having certain initial satura- data as a PVT analysis, The engineer working on a
tions and conditions given. field study must be careful to avoid the overkill that
2. Select a time step over which the model is to results from using expensive, time-consuming simu-
calculate. (Initial time steps are usually short periods lator methods on va~e, hastily prepared basic data.
of about a day, but with successive steps the time Engineering judgment is also required in selecting
periods can gradually be extended until they cover the proper relative permeability data because it repre-
some months.) sents the flow mechanism that occurs in the reservoir.
3. Calculate or use an assigned production or in- This often requires the formulation of pseudo relative
jection volume for each well for the time period. permeability data that represents not only displace-

Fig. l-One-dimensional models.


Fig. 2—Two-dimensional models.
DECEMBER, 1971 1429
mem efficiency, but also stratification and fingering, model can account for most of the forces that are
present in the reservoir. It accounts not only for the
Deciding on the Number of Dimensions areal sweep effects, but also for the gravity-controlled
The number of dimensions and cells in the reservoir vertical sweep effects. When modeling in three dimen-
simulation model will depend upon (1) the desired sions, it is generally preferable to model a segment of
detail and accuracy of reservoir performance to be the reservoir as if the boundaries of the segment were
determined, (2) reservoir forces that need to be ap- no-flow boundaries in the true reservoir. The approxi-
proximated by the model, (3) time and money to be mate location of the no-flow boundaries can be deter-
expended in the study. As the number of dimensions, mined from an areal two-dimensional model. The
cells, and withdrawal points increases so do the prob- advantage that modeling a segment of the reservoir
lems encountered, with the ultimate in difficulty and has over modeling the entire reservoir, assuming each
sophistication being represented by the multicelled is composed of the same number of cells, is that the
three-dimensional model of an entire reservoir. segment will have fewer wells and is inherently more
The simplest model that can be run is the no- accurate in terms of reservoir flow mechanics since
ndimension one-cell model. the well known material it is composed of smaller cells. If a field has complex
balance. A material balance is normally used to esti- geology that could result in uneven water or gas move-
mate initiaI oil in place, water influx, or reservoir ment in vertical layers as well as areally, the three-
pressure, given any two of them, This model assumes dimensional model of the total field will be needed.
th~t all reservoir conditions exist at one average pres- A small-cell three-dimensional-segment model will
sure and that the entire system is at equilibrium not properly describe the gross fluid movements of
conditions. the total field.
If more detail is needed. the one-cell model can In modeling in three dimensions it has been found
be extended to a one-dimensional mt.dticell model. A necessa~ to have at least three vertical layers of cells
reservoir can be modeled by stacking the cells verti- for each continuous sand body in which vertical flow
cally or tilted as well as laying them horizontally. may occur. For example, in modeling a reservoir with
These models will give a good representation of gross two major sand units separated by a discontinuous
fluid movement and pressure distribution in a reser- shale or semipermeable barrier, at least six layers are
voir. Relative permeability data can be used to imitate needed. This means that in the areal view, dimen-
the effects that oil and gas coning have on a well’s sions are limited to a grid network of about 20 X 20
producibility. Wellbore pressure drawdown effects on or fewer grids. If there are many wells in the field
over-all reservoir fluid flow cannot be modeled di- this simply is not enough cells for a total-field model.
. . .. ,, 1. -_ . ..-
rectiy wm tnese moaeis uecause tlk - >uJauc3L
.-..11 -”+ .,”;
+ nf
“L 1~ ~.~..-------- ---n rIMrt of running models that are
~ tim.-rnnct]min~
the reservoir (one cell) is normally very large com- designed to forecast reservoir performance in addition
pared with the volume of reservoir that is actually to well behavior is handling the individual well fore-
affected bv wellbore messures. Wellbore effects can. casting. In models in which many wells are being
however, be modeled ‘with the one-dimensional radial simulated it is very difficult to examine the perform-
model. ance of each well and determine when and how a
One-dimensional multicell models are useful in workover should be performed or a completion
in~emai ~h~uid be moved; therefore a subroutine that
tion-dnve reservoirs. accomplishes this on a consistent pattern as a func-
To model sweep effects of water and gas it is neces- tion of GOR, water cut, oil rate, saturations, etc., is
sarv. to use a two-dimensional model. This can be vital. Two other necessary features are a wellbore
either a radial or a cross-sectional model to simulate hydraulics subroutine, and a subroutine that can
coning of gas or water and gravity effects, or an areal select when and where new wells should be drilled
model to simulate sweep effects. The two-dimensional - after cell saturations and pressures are appropriately
radial model is useful in determining the critical pro- checked.
ducing rates at which coning will occur, and in eval-
uating the effects of shale barriers, low vertical per- Cell Size and Number
meability, and gravity overriding or underriding of The cell size selected will depend largely on the type
injected gas or water. Probably the most extensively
used model is the two-dimensional areal version for
determining optimum waterflood or gas injection ,,+ ~. . — y–..--—___ .
patterns. These models are+useful in achieving maxim-

um recovery by determining locations of ‘wells in ,/’
reservoirs with varying rock properties. The two-
dimensional areal models have also been valuable in
determining aquifer influx for reservoir configurations
that have no analytical solution. / /
Another use f& two-dimensional radial models is
T I 1 1 I’–c-’it’
m bottotti-iiOie pi~SSLif3 03H.D) a.lw,j..
-hQis . RV
-J .mafch-
ing a well’s BHP response with a model, the BHP *I
~/ /
pe-tiormance can be interpreted more accurately. I
Threedimensional models are the present ultimate
in the engineer’s reservoir simulation library. This Fig. 3—Three-dimensional model.


of reservoir performance that is to be simulated. If was used. The five-spot element was gridded first with
in a two-dimensional model the reservoir is to be a 3 X 3 grid system giving grids of 1% acre each
depleted under primary producing conditions of (Fig. 4). A model run was’ made simulating a water-
solution-gas or oil-expansion drive, a coarse grid flood. Using the same five-spot element without any
system is satisfactory. Grids equivalent to the well change in element reservoir volume or input data,
spacing have been used and have given good history except those necessary to accommodate changes in
matches and reasonable performance predictions. In number of cells, model runs were repeated for 4 X 4,
some of these cases grid sizes of 160 acres have been 5 X 5, and 6 X 6 grids. Fig. 5 compares oil recovery
used. for the various systems. As can be seen, grid size
A finer grid pattern is needed if an injection pro- does affect performance, with the finest grid system
gram is to be simulated so that the interfaces between resulting in the highest producing rate. The model
the injected fluid and the oil can be traced. This also also showed about 15 percent more cumulative oil
applies to a water-drive reservoir, although the recovery from the 6 X 6 grid run than from the run
aquifer can be represented by very large grids. with the 3 X 3 grid at either a fixed low oil-producing
To demonstrate the effect of grid size on oil- rate or fixed cumulative injection. The oil-saturation
recovery forecasts, a series of runs was made using a profile from injection well to producer is a function
two-dimensional black-oil model. For this, a five-spot of relative permeability and cell dimensions. Using
~]ern.ent of ~ a~~e~(Qne-fQurth of a 20-acre five-spot) large cells results in a wider apparent two-phase flow
region, thus increasing the resistance to flow and
lowering over-all throughput rate. In the larger cells
the injected water smears out over a larger volume
of reservoir faster than in the smaller cells; as a result
the relative permeability to oil in the producing-well
cell is lowered sooner.
Another model — one that was not a multicell
model — was used for comparison. It was a stratified
model with piston-like displacement in each reservoir
layer. The input data for it was sweepout efficiency
as a function of mobility ratio based on the work of
Caudle and Witte.3 The comparison indicated that
4X4 the finer grid system provided the more nearly cor-
rect projection. However, too fine a grid system in
multicell models becomes impractical. The reasons

are that (1) a larger number of cells will be used to
t- ,- 90 cover the area; and (2) smaller cells may dictate
1 shorter time steps because large saturation and pres-
: I sure changes in a time step will cause some models
+- k-fi~m- .,”.+ hb omcl CAW- llnr~alictic an~w~-~o -A.
i LV UGWW LUID .a”Aw LU.U &. w u... -..u..- -..

combination of these reasons results in a large in-



I crease in the number of calculations that must be
A. --m md -J made and in excessive requirements of computer time.
Eli Our experience has been that 1,000 to 1,500 cells are
:~~ a reasonable number to use, but that a system of
2,000 to 2,500 is approaching the practicai iimit.
-- ACTUAL 5-SPOT ELEMENT OF 5 ACRES This limit will, of course, be relaxed as higher-speed
PRODUCING WELL computers are developed.
To simulate ~e sweepout of a reservoir undergoing
Fig. 4—Grid systems used to study influence of
grid size on model calculations.
an injection program, one should use a grid system
that has at least two cells between offsetting produc-
tion and injection wells.
Relative Permeability
The key to good results from a multicell model study
is good data. Perhaps the most critical are the relative
permeability relationships. It should be realized that
in many cases the choice of a certain relative permea-
bility relationship will essentially fix the answers the
model determines. Generally, the concept associated
with relative permeabili~ curves is that they repre-
sent fluid movement and displacement in a uniform
3 -o I 2 3 4 5 6 7
section of reservoir rock. However, in model work,
relative permeability must represent this displacement
Fig. 5—Comparison of calculated producing rates for in a reservoir volume of cell size. It therefore has to
a five-spot element using varying grid systems. account for fingering, stratification, and inbomo-

DECEMBER, 1971 1431

geneities within the cell, in addition to normal fluid critical was formed. On examination of the gas
displacement. If in the course of a model study, the saturation maps, it was found that a unifom] gas
reservoir changes from one recovery mechanism to saturation higher than critical had formed over the
another, the reservoir engineer must determine if this entire field. However, there had been no significant
change will affect fluid displacement or recovery movement of gas to the top of the structure.
within a cell, and if it does, whether the relative It became obvious that in order for the model to
permeability data must be changed to reflect this. allow gas to migrate upstructure, a substantial
In many reservoirs, the recovery mechanism can amount of free gas would have to be liberated. This
change under primary recovery alone without the was true because a high gas saturation in a volume
introduction of secondary recovery. An example of equivalent to one-half the reservoir would have to
this would be an undersaturated oil reservoir that be formed to have gas sufficiently mobile to flow up-
initially produces under an oil-expansion drive but structure. The two-layer-per-sand-unit model implies
later changes to a solution-gas drive. A match of that any gas tongue or finger is at least half as thick
history during the oil-expansion penod is useful in as the formation. Obviously, this is not true. It be-
confirming the basic reservoir characteristics that de- came apparent that a minimum of three layers would
termined reservoir size. It should be borne in mind be needed for each sand unit in this particular simu-
that the relative permeability curves used for that lation. Fig, 6 shows a cross-section comparison of
. . .
matcn nave not been ccmfimned for a m ~rvj.w...,..
nisrtinn . . ..
nln the two rn.odels. The thickness of the top layer in
into the solution-gas-drive period of depletion. Ob- each sand unit would need to be 5 to 10 percent of
viously, with only the oil phase flowing, only one the total thickness. If gas segregation were to occur,
point on the relative permeability curve is used: k,. at the thin top layer would quickly develop a flowable
connate water saturation. This does not mean that the gas saturation as a result of vertical gas migration
relative permeability relationships are wrong for the and would conduct the gas to the top of the struc-
second period, but rather that they have not been ture. Re-forming the model to have three layers in
tested. each sand unit did result in different gas saturation
The same reasoning can also be extended to cover conditions.
secondary recovery. If a reservoir had been producing
by primary recovery under a solution gas drive, the Case Hmfory 2
gas-oil relative permeability relationships would pre- A study was conducted on an oil reservoir with an
dominate in the performance. A satisfactory history overlying gas cap. The reservoir rock was a sand-
match of this period on a model would attest to the stone having two major units separated by a discon-
reasonableness of the gas-oil relative permeability tinuous shale. Vertical permeability in the lower sand
curves. However, in simulating a waterflood, it is the unit was 0.25 to 1.0 times horizontal permeability, and
water-oil curves that would have the predominant vertical permeability in the upper unit was 0.05 to
effect on calculated performance. As before, a good 0.1 times horizontal. The nature of the field and our
match of the solution-gas-drive period does not assure output needs required that we model the field in
that the relative permeability curves will hold for a three dimensions. A major problem was how to
waterflood projection. model gas coning when using large cells. It was
A multicell model can be used to determine sweep obvious that the actual vertical flow conditions could
and interaction between cells, but the displacement not be simulated in the field model because too many
within a cell is controlled by the relative permeability cells would result. Computer limitations restricted
relationship put into a’ model. Matching reservoir the total field model to about 2,000 total cells, which
performance can serve as a means of obtaining a was equivalent to five layers in the vertical direc-
relative permeability relationship for use in making tion. To determine “true” gas coning response, an
projection runs. If, however, the reservoir recovery 11 X 11 X 13 model of one field model stack of
mechanism changes, the relative permeability rela- cells was run (see Fig. 7). In this simulation, the
tionship may no longer hold. Laborato~ displace- vertical flow conditions reflected the depositional
ment tests on cores might be a better way to compare analysis, and represented the actual response. The
recovery mechanisms than multicell models. next model runs were one stack of field model cells
Case Histories having five layers. Vertical permeabilities were ad-
justed to match the performance of the 11 X 11 X 13
Case History 1
In this study an entire field was modeled in thres
dimensions using four overlying layers. The pay zone
was composed of two thick sand units separated by f f
a continuous shale. Vertical and horizontal permea-
“.U..-. w~~e hQh
hilitie. in both sands and the oil was
saturated at initial conditions. It was thought that
the model run would show vertical migration of the RY
solution gas and the formation of a secondary gas
cap on top of structure. In the first simulation run
each sand unit was composed of two layers of the
same thickness. A reservoir depletion test was run
Fig. 6-Case History l—layering needed
in such a way that a gas saturation in excess of for updip gas migration.


model. The best fit was then used in the 20X20X 5 jection program of water only would be adequate. A
field model. It was not possible to match exactly the two-dimensional model representing an areal view
breakthrough and after-breakthrough performance of was used for the study. Relative permeability curves
the 11 X 1I X 13 model with the five-layer model, were developed as shown in Fig. 8. The water-oil
but reasonable performance was obtained. relationship was based on laboratory work but was
developed mainly to match a stratified formation
~me H&6tQry3 .:ti..+:~ti ~“ +h= .~.-mrair The uac-nil relatinnchin was
DILUCt LIUll 1.. LL1* Lwe”s v “., . A ..- a-- --- --.-- . ..-...- ..= ___

Reservoir A, one of the first fields we studied with a based to some degree on laboratory work. The water-
multicell model, brought to our attention the im- oil relationship is plotted against fraction of total
portance of relative permeability data. pore volume, whereas the gas-oil relationship is
Reservoir A produces from a 7,500-ft lime. The plotted against fraction of hydrocarbon pore volume.
crude is of good quality — 35 ‘API gravity. Original Model runs were made, first to match history.
reservoir pressure was 3,500 psi, and the bubble- These were followed by projection runs to simuiate
point pressure was about 50 percent of original. The continued alternate gas-water injection and then to
pressure had been permitted to drop to near the simulate water injection only. Under primary per-
bubble point before a secondary recovery project was formance the history matched; but we had consider-
begun. The secondary program was one of alternating .1.1.
1. . . .— .:--
k: -.,....,

gas and water injection. One of the purposes of the started, and the relative permeability curves had to
multicell model study was to determine if the gas- be revised. The two projection runs were made using
water injection program should continue or if an in- the set of curves that then gave the closest match.
Results revealed that slightly higher recovery could
be expected for alternate gas-water injection than for
water alone.
In analyzing the results of this study several things
came to light. In this reservoir study three different
/ - // + recovery mechanisms were involved: primary recov-
ery by Oii expansion, secondary recovery by alterna-
ting gas-water injection, and seconda~ recovery by
water injection only. During the primary recovery
period only one phase — oil — was flowing over most
of the model area during most of the time period. A
history match of this period was easy to obtain.
Actually it would have been difficult not to obtain a
match with any reasonable relative permeability curve
as long as the k,o at the comate water saturation was
approximately correct. The fact that the same relative
permeability curves did not hold for the gas-water
/ :-: --.: - -.4..L ..L.-...l.-l..-+ L..,o ha=m+,-,
II The match of reservoir performance that was obtained
for one producing mechanism did not validate the
relative permeability curves for another producing
An examination of the output data from the pro-
jection runs showed that under alternate gas-water
● L.- an- ..,-.
“A;”- ;“+~ al,.+”,-,” ~n the nil
UIG &J3 W c13 &J1ll& 111 LU aUlu LIULL I*I u,- WM,

and the increased recovery was reflecting that the

residual oil was at a higher formation volume factor
under gas-water injection than under water injection
alone. Except for this factor, the sweep between cells
Fig. 7—Case History 2—fine grid model used and the displacement within each cell were essentially
to obtain performance of coarse grid.
the same.
In retrospect, we realize that because the same
K- A relative permeability relationship was being used for
both projection runs, the model had no choice but
to come up with the results it did and that to compare
reservoir recovery mechanisms in this manner is a
misuse of multicell models.
i 04 t In the case of alternate gas-water injection, we

could expect not only gas swelling effects, but also the
effect that the presence of gas would have on the
residual oil saturation to water injection. The presence
of free gas could possibly reduce the residual oil satu-
rations.4 The extent to which this would take place
Fig. 8-Relative permeability curves developed for
model study of Reservoir A. would have to be determined in the laboratory by

DECEN:EER, 1971 1433

simulating the pro~ss on cores. The laboratory re-
sults could then be used to develop proper relative Case Hktory 5
permeability curves to duplicate the displacement The model study of Reservoir C is an example of
efficiency in the model. the increased understanding that can be achieved with
a model study.
Case History 4 Reservoir C is a 10,000-ft-deep sandstone reser-
Reservoir B illustrates the problems that can arise in voir that contains a good quality of undersaturated
trying to match history by “faking-in” data (that is, oil. For several years gas has been injected into six
approximating an apparent reservoir condition by crestal wells.
altering semirelated input data). Three faults were known to exist in the field. The
Reservoir B is a 5,000-ft deep sandstone reservoir question arose whether these were sealing faults acting
situated on an anticlinal structure. It contains a good as barriers to flow. If they were, it would be neces-
quality, though highly undersaturated, oil and has a sary to determine the effectiveness of the sweep in
strong water drive. The field was developed on 40- the faulted area and to find out what improvements
acre spacing..- I-L.
~Ilc ..,-11.
Wul,aa,v .- ,,v..
nfiw p~Uc@ with high could be made by adding injection wells or drilling
water cuts, and the field is approaching depletion. producing wells. For this study a two-dimensional
Because this is a large field, a model study was black-oil model was used. An areal grid system of
considered necessary to obtain a better understand- 440 X 440-ft grids was laid out over the field, except
ing of it and to determine if any changes in operation, in the area of the faults where the grid size was re-
or if any injection program would improve ultimate duced to 440 X 220 ft (Fig. 9). To simulate the fault
recovery. A three-dimensional oil model was used for barriers, the permeability in the fault cells was set at
this studY. ~~- -..-..., v-J.
1 lIClU>=, u,, W.Crlividpd
..-= =,. .. . . into
..... ]@aCre cells
with nine overlying layers, each 100 ft thick. To In the history-matching runs, producing and injec-
obtain a history match, it was decided to fake-in tion rates were entered into the model. The history
water coning by increasing the effective permeability match was made by comparing GOR and pressure
to water in the cells that had wells. This could be performance from the model with that from the field.
done by shifting the relative permeability curves for The performance from the model showed reservoir
these cells. pressures, after a few years of history, that were sev-
The model results showed that if the operation of eral hundred psi less than actually existed in the
the field were to continue as it had been, the top northwest part of the field. This indicated that the
layer of cells would still have high oil saturation be- faults were not barriers but that reservoir fluids were
tween wells at the time of abandonment. The imnledi- moving across them. BY trial and error, the cells
-.* y“w.,..v.. was “what can be done to recover this representing the faults were assigned permeability
oil?” . .
values untd a matcn or pressure history was obtained.
In the course of answering the question it becaine projection pJH~ ~.ade with the model showed that
obvious that unrecovered oil existed in the field only sweep would be sufficiently effective that no changes
if coning actually exi$ted. The model was showing the were needed.
conditions it did because the input data forced it to,
The existence of coning should first have been deter-
mined by using a coning model or, better yet, by
actually checking on performance in the field. Ob-
taining a reasonable history match with faked-in
water coning did not necessarily prove that coning
existed. Changing other reservoir factors could also
have given a history match.
A similar situation existed in another field model
study in which directional permeability was faked-in
to give a history match. Model results showed un-
swept areas of high oil saturation, and again the
question was raised as to what could be done to
recover this oil. In reality the directional permeability
was not a certainty, but rather one of the reservoir
conditions that happened to give a history match in
the model. Actual field information — directional
permeability obtained from oriented cores or from I
interference tests between wells, or data obtained with
a borehole televiewer — should first have been ex-
amined to substantiate that directional permeability
or oriented fracturing existed. 1

Although this caution about faked-in data may

seem obvious, it has been observed on numerous
occasions that the engineer gets so carried away with @ GAS INJECTION WELL
a study that he forgets there w-aslittle basis for some Fig. %l?CX5~iWGir
. . #= ..,; h
b w,t,,
Ujuj.r.uu .

of the original assumptions. to simulate sealing faults.


The study of Reservoir C is a good example of
the use of a multicell model. I I I I 1 I

Case History 6
1 1 1 11 [111
1 1 II I

The study of Reservoir D is an excellent example of

using a model to determine early in the iife of a fieid
the degree of water ini3ux and whether the field should
be watertlooded. I

The field produces from a sand reservoir about

9,000 ft deep. It contains an undersaturated 37 ‘API
crude. Initial reservoir pressure was about 4,300 psi 111111111111
and bubble-point pressure was near 1,800 psi. Fig. 1l—lsopachous map with grid system used for
It appeared from the initial, very steep decline in two-dimensional model study, Reservoir D.
reservoir pressure that no water drive existed. (Curve
A, Fig. 10, projects this decline.) The operators,
noting this steep pressure decline, quickly took action In Fig. 11, the small interior grids are 330 X 330
to explore unitization and waterihociiiig. Shortly ft in QzeeThe outer grids, although 330 ft wide, were
thereafter, however, the pressure started leveling off, varied in length duri~g the study to represent different
making -it obvious that a water drive did exist. aquifer volumes. As it turned out, history matching
Opnnons differed over whether the waterflood ~ha~ed ~kat an aquifer of 1 billion bbl of water gave
.. .. . 2 -I UI-. :C .Lo :m~,,v xwac ndeflu~te
would stlh De neeaeu II LUG LU,,~fi . . . . -_= the best pressure match. This is shown as Curve C
for effective pressure maintenance. A leveling off of on Fig. 10.
the pressure would have been expected with a good The largest aquifer tried was 36 billion bbl of
water drive (Curve B, Fig. i V). ~ater. It is of interest that the reservoir primary per-
A two-dimensional black-oil model was used for formance using the maximum-sized aquifer did not
the study. The grid system superimposed over the oil vary greatly from that using 1 billion bbl of water
pay isopachous map is Fig. 11. (see Fig. 12). One of the reasons for this is that the
. i. “ria. tinn had
in moaeung die reservoir, cons:ue.a.l.,.. ... . to he field was being produced in a competitive, nonpro-
given to the sands along the flank of the reservoir as rated situation. The economic limit wouici be reached
they dipped below the oil-water contact. An average before the aquifer, even a large one, could be very
thickness of 230 ft was given to these sands and the. elfective.
surrounding aquifer. To model those cells having an Further studies were made in which watertlooding
oil column overlying water, the oil and water volumes was simulated. These studies showed that water in-
are each evenly dispersed over the entire cell volume. jection would produce a substantial quantity of addi-
This presents a problem in those cells where the oil tional oil.
column is thin relative to total cell thickness because This is an excellent example of the understanding
it can mean that the dispersed oil will be at or below of a reservoir that can be obtained with a multicell
the residual oil saturation and, therefore, immobile. model. Production from the field has more than
To reflect a proper fluid distribution in which the oil doubled since the model work was done. Although
would remain mobile, it was necessary first to add a the history until the time of the study was brief, per-
residual oil saturation to the water column under- formance since shows that the model results are still
lying the oii zone. essentially correct.

5000 16


\ .-
-g d -“m
~A \ Yb
~~ \
$ ti’ -

0 4 8 12 16 20 24

Fig. It)-Comparison of pressure performance for TIME- YEARS

varying degrees of water influx for Reservoir D, Fig. 12—Predicted oil producing rates for Reservoir D.
m“nm. ,”r, , <071
in field development. Reservoir engineers must dem-
Overview onstrate to management that these new tools are
Experience has shown that multicell reservoir simu- worth their enormous costs.
lators are a vital tool for the reservoir engineer. This brings to mind another side of modeling,
Models supply and solve a set of equations descri- which has been described as field-study overkill, or
bingfluid flow, but it is up to the engineer to enter the application of too much engineering time and
into the model the data that satisfactorily describe the computer time to field problems that do not justify
system being studied. No statement so well describes the expense. The engineer should apply the simplest
reservom model computer runs as .~- LUG
<+-rail .U- orn term available solution to his problem. For example, for a
“Garbage in — Garbage out.” The reservoir engineer simple waterflood caicuiation, a tllree-dhnensiomd
must examine all the output and apply his judgment model is seldom necessary. There are many good
to the results. If a model run gives answers that are techniques besides multicell models for waterflood
inconsistent with experience in similar cases, there is forecasting that are faster and give excellent results.
a good chance something is wrong. It is not a satis- The engineer should ask himself:
factory response to management to say “I don’t 1. What is the problem I need to solve?
understand it, but this is what the model calculated.” 2. Will the model answer the question or will it
I@gineers -k “ld spend the maiority of their time
~lloul only tell me what I am forcing it to tell me by the
analyzing results of runs, making ;ure the calculations input data?
done by the computer are consistent with flow theory. 3. Even if the multicell model can give me the
The sophisticated simulator can never replace a answer, is there a simpler way of getting it?
sound geological study of the reservoir and rock
propefi;es or-a laboratory study of the relative per- References
meability characteristics of the rock. I$4ul$icel!models !. Cmts K. H.: “Use and Misuse of Reservoir Simulation
enable the engineer to test the effect of variance in Models,” J. Pet. Tech. (Nov., i%9j i39i-i39t3.
the input data and inform management of the risks 2. van Poollen, H. K., Bixel~ H. C. and Jargon, J. R.: “Res-
ervoir Modeling — 3: Finite Differences,” Oil and Gas
and ranges of producing conditions to be encountered J. (Sept. 15, 1969) 120-121.
3. Caudle, B. H. and Witte, M. D.: “Production Potential
OriRinal manuscript received in Societv of Petroleum Encineere
office-March 24, 197”1. Revised manuscript received Aug. 19; 1971.
Changes During Sweepout in a Five-Spot System,” J. Pet.
Paper (SPE 3304) waa presented at SPE Permian Basin 011 Re- Tech. (Dec., 1959 ) 63-65.
covery Conference, held in Midland, Tex,, May 6-7, 1971. @) COPY 4. Schneider, F. N. and Owens, W. W,: “Sandstone and
right 1971 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Carbonate Three-Phase Relative Permeability Charac-
Petroleum Enginears, Inc.
teristics,” Sot. Pet. Eng. J. (March, 1970) 75-84. JPT