Pore scale modeling of rock transport properties
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The increasing complexity of oil and gas reservoirs has led to the need of a better understanding of the processes governing the rock properties. Traditional theoretical and empirical models often fail to predict the behavior of carbonates, tight gas sands and shale gas, for example. An essential part of the necessary investigation is the study of the phenomena occurring at the pore scale. In this direction, the so-called digital rock physics is emerging as a research field that offers the possibility of imaging the rock pore space and simulating the processes therein directly. This report describes our work on developing algorithms to simulate viscous and electric flow through a three dimensional Cartesian representation of the porous space, such as those available through X-ray microtomography. We use finite differences to discretize the governing equations and also propose a new method to enforce the incompressible flow constraint under natural boundary conditions. Parallel computational codes are written targeting performance and computer memory optimization, allowing the use of bigger and more representative samples. Results are reported with an estimate of the error bars in order to help on the simulation appraisal. Tests performed using benchmark samples show good agreement with experimental/theoretical values. Example of application on digital modeling of cement growth and on multiphase fluid distribution are also provided. The final test is done on Bentheimer, Buff Berea and Idaho Brown sandstone samples with available laboratory measurements. Some limitations need to be investigated in future work. First, the computer potential fields show anomalous border effects at the open boundaries. Second, a minor problem arises with the decreased convergence rate for the velocity field due to the increased number of operations, leading to the need of a more sophisticated preconditioner. We intend to expand the algorithms to handle microporosity (e.g. carbonates) and multiphase fluid flow.