Reservoir simulation and optimization of CO₂ huff-and-puff operations in the Bakken Shale




Sanchez Rivera, Daniel

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A numerical reservoir model was created to optimize CO₂ Huff-and-Puff operations in the Bakken Shale. Huff-and-Puff is an enhanced oil recovery treatment in which a well alternates between injection, soaking, and production. Injecting CO₂ into the formation and allowing it to “soak” re-pressurizes the reservoir and improves oil mobility, boosting production from the well. A compositional reservoir simulator was used to study the various design components of the Huff-and-Puff process in order to identify the parameters with the largest impact on recovery and understand the reservoir’s response to cyclical CO₂ injection. It was found that starting Huff-and-Puff too early in the life of the well diminishes its effectiveness, and that shorter soaking periods are preferable over longer waiting times. Huff-and-Puff works best in reservoirs with highly-conductive natural fracture networks, which allow CO₂ to migrate deep into the formation and mix with the reservoir fluids. The discretization of the computational domain has a large impact on the simulation results, with coarser gridding corresponding to larger projected recoveries. Doubling the number of hydraulic fractures per stage results in considerably greater CO₂ injection requirements without proportionally larger incremental recovery factors. Incremental recovery from CO₂ Huff-and-Puff appears to be insufficient to make the process commercially feasible under current economic conditions. However, re-injecting mixtures of CO₂ and produced hydrocarbon gases was proven to be technically and economically viable, which could significantly improve profit margins of Huff-and-Puff operations. A substantial portion of this project involved studying alternative numerical methods for modeling hydraulically-fractured reservoir models. A domain decomposition technique known as mortar coupling was used to model the reservoir system as two individually-solved subdomains: fracture and matrix. A mortar-based numerical reservoir simulator was developed and its results compared to a tradition full-domain finite difference model for the Cinco-Ley et al. (1978) finite-conductivity vertical fracture problem. Despite some numerical issues, mortar coupling closely matched Cinco-Ley et al.'s (1978) solution and has potential applications in complex problems where decoupling the fracture-matrix system might be advantageous.



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