Development of an efficient embedded discrete fracture model for 3D compositional reservoir simulation in fractured reservoirs
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Naturally fractured reservoirs (NFRs) hold a significant amount of the world's hydrocarbon reserves. Compared to conventional reservoirs, NFRs exhibit a higher degree of heterogeneity and complexity created by fractures. The importance of fractures in production of oil and gas is not limited to naturally fractured reservoirs. The economic exploitation of unconventional reservoirs, which is increasingly a major source of short- and long-term energy in the United States, hinges in part on effective stimulation of low-permeability rock through multi-stage hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells. Accurate modeling and simulation of fractured media is still challenging owing to permeability anisotropies and contrasts. Non-physical abstractions inherent in conventional dual porosity and dual permeability models make these methods inadequate for solving different fluid-flow problems in fractured reservoirs. Also, recent approaches for discrete fracture modeling may require large computational times and hence the oil industry has not widely used such approaches, even though they give more accurate representations of fractured reservoirs than dual continuum models. We developed an embedded discrete fracture model (EDFM) for an in-house fully-implicit compositional reservoir simulator. EDFM borrows the dual-medium concept from conventional dual continuum models and also incorporates the effect of each fracture explicitly. In contrast to dual continuum models, fractures have arbitrary orientations and can be oblique or vertical, honoring the complexity and heterogeneity of a typical fractured reservoir. EDFM employs a structured grid to remediate challenges associated with unstructured gridding required for other discrete fracture models. Also, the EDFM approach can be easily incorporated in existing finite difference reservoir simulators. The accuracy of the EDFM approach was confirmed by comparing the results with analytical solutions and fine-grid, explicit-fracture simulations. Comparison of our results using the EDFM approach with fine-grid simulations showed that accurate results can be achieved using moderate grid refinements. This was further verified in a mesh sensitivity study that the EDFM approach with moderate grid refinement can obtain a converged solution. Hence, EDFM offers a computationally-efficient approach for simulating fluid flow in NFRs. Furthermore, several case studies presented in this study demonstrate the applicability, robustness, and efficiency of the EDFM approach for modeling fluid flow in fractured porous media. Another advantage of EDFM is its extensibility for various applications by incorporating different physics in the model. In order to examine the effect of pressure-dependent fracture properties on production, we incorporated the dynamic behavior of fractures into EDFM by employing empirical fracture deformation models. Our simulations showed that fracture deformation, caused by effective stress changes, substantially affects pressure depletion and hydrocarbon recovery. Based on the examples presented in this study, implementation of fracture geomechanical effects in EDFM did not degrade the computational performance of EDFM. Many unconventional reservoirs comprise well-developed natural fracture networks with multiple orientations and complex hydraulic fracture patterns suggested by microseismic data. We developed a coupled dual continuum and discrete fracture model to efficiently simulate production from these reservoirs. Large-scale hydraulic fractures were modeled explicitly using the EDFM approach and numerous small-scale natural fractures were modeled using a dual continuum approach. The transport parameters for dual continuum modeling of numerous natural fractures were derived by upscaling the EDFM equations. Comparison of the results using the coupled model with that of using the EDFM approach to represent all natural and hydraulic fractures explicitly showed that reasonably accurate results can be obtained at much lower computational cost by using the coupled approach with moderate grid refinements.
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