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Impact of Grid Selection

on Reservoir Simulation
M.K. Abdou, H.D. Pham,· and A.S. AI-Aqeell
ADCO Producing Co. Inc.

This paper presents a field case study of a Medhat K. Abdou is a senior reseNoir
faulted, multilayer carbonate reservoir to engineer at ADCO Producing Co. in Abu
quantify the impact of grid selection on the Dhabi, where he works in reservoir
reservoir history match. Comparison of the management and simulation. His current
history match using both orthogonal and interests include numerical simulation
nonorthogonal grids revealed that the sim- techniques and large, heterogeneous
ple five-point scheme can lead to significant Abdou
reseNoir simulation applications. Abdou holds
error in the history match and in the differ- a BS degree in petroleum engineering from
ent representations of the reservoir. Tripoli U. H.D. Pham is a lead reseNoir engineer at ADCO. Since joining
ADCO in 1990 as a secondee from Mobil E&P U.S. Inc., he has
Introduction conducted simulation studies to support reseNoir management and
development planning. He holds a BS degree from the U. of Texas at
A simulation study of the Thamama reser- Austin and an MS degree from Tulane U., both in petroleum engineering.
voir, a faulted carbonate reservoir in Abu Photograph and biographical sketch of A.S. AI-Aqeell are unavailable.
Dhabi, investigated flow communication
across faults and evaluated development op-
tions for the field. The field is an elongated OIP, have been the focus of major devel- lator capable of handling distorted (nonor-
anticline that covers 62 sq miles. Geophys- opment since the field discovery in 1967. thogonal) grids, or comer-point geometry,
ical and geological data and early reservoir Fig. 1 shows the general structural config- to fit the faults and reservoir boundaries
performance indicated that the field was uration of the reservoir, which consists of better.
separated into several fault blocks by par- a large dome with faults oriented north- Two approaches were considered for con-
tially sealing and nonsealing faults. west! southeast. structing the model grid. The first approach
Two full-field simulation models were Faulting in the field, which partitions the uses a rectangular (orthogonal) gridding sys-
constructed that used two different ap- reservoir into numerous small fault blocks, tem that represents faults at block bounda-
proaches to represent faults: (1) an or- has caused some concern about implemen- ries. As a result, reservoir geology and
thogonal (regular) grid model with faults tation of the full-field development plan. geometry cannot be represented properly.
defmed at block boundaries and (2) a nonor- Although lateral and vertical communication However, finite-difference techniques can
thogonal (irregular) grid model with block between upthrown and downthrown faulted be used in a straightforward manner with
boundaries defined at fault traces. The first blocks along major faults was suspected, it good accuracy. The second approach uses
approach results in a greater number of cells was never fully identified. Throughout the a nonrectangular (nonorthogonal) gridding
and presents difficulties in representing the field's producing life, the extent of lateral system that accommodates accurate descrip-
fault geometry properly. However, finite- and vertical communication within the reser- tion of the fault pattern by placing block
difference techniques can be used for numer- voir, particularly between the oil zone and boundaries along fault traces. However, the
ical calculations. The second approach uses the underlying aquifer, has been questioned. nonrectangular gridding systems could lead
fewer gridblocks and provides an accurate This question became a critical operating to serious calculation errors. 1
description of the fault pattern, but trans- consideration when a peripheral water in- We conducted full-field simulation studies
missibility calculations could lead to signif- jection plan was proposed in the late 1970's. using both orthogonal and nonorthogonal
icant errors because the grid is locally Although an extensive reservoir study was grid models. The results of the history match
distorted. undertaken to predict the field's future pro- of both models with the same input data
To quantify the impact of grid selection ducing performance under different water- were compared to determine the magnitude
on the reservoir history match, both models flood operations, no water injection program of the calculation error and differences in
were used and the results compared in the was implemented. We decided that further model performance.
simulation study. History matching was per- detailed reservoir studies should be conduct-
formed first with the orthogonal grid model. ed to understand the communication and Study Plan
Then, a history match using the same match- cross flow between fault blocks fully before
ing parameters was conducted on the nonor- a full-scale injection program could be de- Two major phases of work were conducted
thogonal grid model. signed. to reach the study objectives. In Stage 1, two
A preliminary 3D, coarse, full-field simu- 3D full-field models with orthogonal and
Background lation study of the Thamama reservoir with nonorthogonal gridding systems were con-
The Thamama reservoir comprises three an in-house simulator having a rectangular structed with identical rock and fluid prop-
zones, Zones A, B, and C. Characterized (orthogonal) grid system showed the signif- erties and the same number of layers. In
by high faulting and low permeability, this icant effect of faulting on reservoir perform- Stage 2, history matching was performed on
carbonate reservoir contains about 3.6 bil- ance. Unfortunately, the crossflow and the orthogonal grid model until satisfactory
lion STB of oil in place (OIP). Zones B and communication levels between the fault results were obtained. All the rock and fluid
C, which contain about 80% of the total blocks could not be determined accurately parameters used in the history match of the
because the model could not represent the orthogonal grid model were entered into the
'On secondment from Mobil E&P U.S. Inc.
faults properly owing to simulator limita- nonorthogonal grid model and a history
Copyright 1993 Society of Petroleum Engineers tions. Therefore, we decided to use a simu- match was conducted. The history-match re-

664 July 1993 • JPT


Horizontal Average
Geographical Thickness Permeability Porosity
Layer Subzone (ft) (md) (%)
1 A 45.5 0.8 14.0
2 Dense 20.0 0.0001 0.0
3 BI 4.7 2.3 6.3
4 01 5.0 3.3 2.7
5 BIIA 12.0 8.2 15.8
6 BIIB 12.6 7.8 15.8
7 02 2.9 3.9 12.8
8 BIIIUA 13.3 4.5 19.7
9 BIlIUB 7.5 1.7 16.4
10 02A 3.2 1.5 13.1
11 BIlIL 20.8 3.4 16.8
12 03 3.6 1.0 13.4
13 BIVA 25.0 2.4 18.6
14 BIVB 22.9 1.6 16.6
15 04 3.2 0.5 12.9
16 BV 14.0 1.0 15.8

17 05 4.4 5.8 6.7

18 BVI 4.1 0.5 0.2
19 Dense 48.5 0.0001 0.0
20 CI 12.0 0.4 14.5
21 06 3.9 0.1 4.0
22 CIIA 18.0 25.5 20.0
23 CIIB 8.5 8.4 21.0
24 CIIC 12.5 13.4 20.5
25 07 6.5 1.2 16.0
26 CIII 19.0 1.6 14.0
Fig. 1-Thamama sand structure map.

sults obtained from both models were com- In general, comer-point geometry would and will provide better alignment with reser-
pared and analyzed. allow the user to distort the generally used voir boundaries and faults, we investigated,
rectangular or orthogonal gridblocks to fit from a practical point of view, the accura-
Reservoir Simulator Description the reservoir geology and geometry better. cy of the model's calculation results.
The commercial reservoir simulator used in The result is fewer gridblocks and less com-
this study is a fully implicit, 3D, three- putational effort in simulation oflarge, com- Data Preparation
plex reservoirs. However, using comer- Geology and Reservoir Description. The
phase, black-oil simulator having the comer-
point geometry adds considerable mathemat-
point geometry feature that uses a five-point subject field is an elongated northeast/south-
ical complexity to the model equations and,
finite-difference-type scheme in the model west faulted anticline with a closure of about
if not adjusted properly, can lead to errone-
calculations. 62 sq miles. The main accumulations, in-
ous results. As Hegre et at. 1 discussed,
although comer-point geometry would pro- cluding Zones A, B, and C, occur in the Up-
Corner·Point Geometry vide an excellent means of modeling com- per Cretaceous Thamama group. This group
Comer-point geometry, or a distorted grid- plex reservoirs, it would lose some accuracy of reservoirs, described as a broad, shallow
ding system, can be considered an approxi- if a five-point finite-difference scheme were marine environment with increasing depo-
mation to the use of curvilinear grids, which used in the model calculations. Mathemati- sition energy in the upper zones, is charac-
is conceptually a useful tool for modeling cal formulations for both orthogonal and terized by vertical facies changes.
dipping and faulted reservoirs. During the nonorthogonal (rectangular) grid models are Lime mudstone becomes the predominant
last 10 years, it has received increased at- not discussed here; previous studies 1-9 give lithology in the lower part of the reservoir.
tention. Many authors 2-9 have investigated details. Stylolites are common in the field. They re-
using curvilinear coordinates in reservoir Recognizing that using a nonorthogonal strict vertical communication within the
simulation studies. model will require less computational efforts reservoir.

, ,


! o 5km



Fig. 2-East/west cross section. Fig. 3-North/south cross section.

JPT • July 1993 665

were constructed on the basis of their typi-
WELL - 5 cal permeability and porosity properties.
II::iAMAMA ZQ~~S A. ea c Fig. 7 shows a typical relative permeabil-
RESERVOIR, APPRAISAL SECTION ity curve used in this study.
... COII£ ... to 1'0 .... uo •
_ ....."y
Jt'MllOl LAYERS SW% ,to Foe: .. 100 ",osw • Fluid Properties. The oil is highly under-
1..t,.!'.1~ '" leo 100 CNL 100 OM'LM
saturated. The initial saturation pressure of
about 1,245 psig compared with an initial

reservoir pressure of 4,425 psig. Fig. 8
shows the fluid properties as a function of

f -
( ..

Production and Pressure Data. Production

\ ~ '\ from Zones B and C began in early 1975

(Fig. 9). So far, natural depletion has been
. <
the only production mechanism. As of Jan.
1990, the cumulative production from the
< . ~ -c:::::. ~~ field was 63 MMSTB, or about 2.1 % of the
.. stock-tank oil originally in place. Detailed

~ 1 J r
analysis of pressure data showed that vari-
.. ous well pressure declines were associated

~ .. with reservoir faulting and variation of rock
properties in the field .

..~ From pressure performance and structural

~ .:;S> I data, the field can be subdivided into four
areal blocks: the northern, central, west, and
= southern blocks. Fig. 9 shows pressure data
~ from the four blocks of Zone B. The south-
I ~
ern area (Block 1), with a higher OWC and
pressure level in Zone B, seems to be iso-

~ ~

} \\ i
lated from the rest of the field by sealing
faults. The central and the west areas
(Blocks 2 and 3) are highly faulted and have
vertical communication between all three
zones. The northern area (Block 4) has later-
al communication with the central area of
I the field; however, vertical communication
~ is very restricted.
~ 8. ..,z
Model Construction


. ]


If ..

Areal Grid Design. The areal grid design
for both orthogonal and nonorthogonal
models was based on two factors to
minimize gridblock effects on the simula-
tion results.
1. The reservoir major axis is tilted about

~!I I~
45° northeast/southwest while the predom-
inant fault trend is northwest/southeast.
~ 2. Grid refinement in the main part ofthe
reservoir is required in order to provide as
i ~ i much detailed description of the faults as
possible. Grid refinement also will help
Fig. 4-Type log. monitor any possible communication along
the faults.
Faulting is an important tectonic element Capillary Pressure. Capillary pressure
that has a pronounced effect on perform- curves were used to determine transition Vertical Grid Design. The vertical grid de-
ance. Evidence of faulting throughout all zones and water-saturation distribution with- sign for both models was based on two fac-
three zones was seen from dipmeter surveys, in layers. Figs. 5 and 6 show the capillary tors, which resulted from detailed geological
seismic data, and other sources from the pressure curves for all layers in Zone B. and petrophysical studies. First, the three
field. Figs. 2 and 3 show typical cross sec- Although the top of the transition zone for reservoirs are represented by 26 layers char-
tions across the three zones. all Zone B layers was identified at 8,700 ft acterized by different lithofacies and stylo-
subsea, there is a considerable variation in lite units, as discussed previously. Second,
Layering. Fig. 4 shows the layering the saturation profile within each layer. As non-neighboring connections were used to
representation of the Thamama reservoir. a result, the oil/water contact (OWC) of simulate communication across the faults
To represent stylolites and lithofacies units Zone B was found to vary from 8,925 ft in properly as a result of the variable juxtapo-
as separate layers, Zone B was divided into the southwest to 9,040 ft in the northeast. sition between the layers. '
16 layers (Layers 3 through 18) and Zone
C into 7 layers (Layers 20 through 26). Zone Relative Permeability. Relative permeabil- Orthogonal Grid Model. The orthogonal
A and dense zones between Zones A and B ity curves for the oil/water process were grid model, defined by a 45 x 33 x 26 Carte-
and Zones Band C were each represented developed as a function of the rock perme- sian grid system (Fig. 10), was oriented
by one layer. Table 1 gives the average rock ability and porosity. From this, average northeast/southwest in line with the
properties for each model layer. curves for the lithofacies of Zones Band C predominant fault trend in the field. In this

666 July 1993 • JPT

100 100
• BIMl • BIM1
* 0lR1 * OIRl
90 0 BIIM2 90 0 BIIM2

A 02
SO 1 A 02
• - B3UM3Al
I • B3UM3Al
7D ... 02A 70 I ... 02A
B3lM3A \ B3lM3A
03 \ 03
1 , B4LM1

~ 50
50 "~ 04
05 ···0·· 05
4D B6lM 4D -llo- B6lM

3D 3D

20 20

10 10

L' 2D 4D 6D

Fig. 5-Capillary pressure correlation (northeast region).

100 0 20 40

Fig. 6-Caplllary pressure correlation (southwest region).

6D 80 100

model, faults are represented at the nearest Nonorthogonal Grid Model. The nonor- are active. In this model, the aquifer was
block boundaries to minimize distortions of thogonal grid model, defined by a represented by an analytic aquifer that sur-
the fault trace. The block sizes varied from 44 x 32 X 26 distorted gridding system (Fig. rounds all the layers. This analytic aquifer
a minimum of 1,640 x 1,640 ft in the cen- 10), also was oriented northeast/southwest. has approximately the same amount of water
tral part of the field to a maximum of The model was constructed so that most of as represented in the aquifer cells of the or-
23,000 x23,000 ft in the aquifer area. the faults with throws greater than 30 ft thogonal grid model. The analytic aquifer
The model geometry was specified by would be represented as block boundaries. provides the same pressure support to the
defining the top of Zone A and providing The gridblock areal dimensions vary from reservoir as the areally represented aquifer
the thickness of each layer. Isopach, porosi- 1,480 X 1,480 ft in the crestal area to but saves computational time.
ty, and absolute permeability maps were 3,000 x 7,500 ft in the north part of the field. Other procedures and data used in the
constructed from log and core data and dig- The 44 X 32 x 26 grid model contained model construction are identical to those of
itally entered into the model. 36,608 cells; of those, 22,880 cells, or 63%, the orthogonal grid model.


600 1.6
D.' ~
GOR (DIff..-aI)
i 500 1.55

0.7 z
§ '00 1.5
g ~
0.' ,.;
0.5 1.45

0.4 ~
0.3 .. 0.' 1.'
u ~
0.2 i:
8 0.3 1.35
0.1 !O
0.2 1.3
D•• ..4 0 .• 0 .• 0 1.000 2.000 3.000 4,000
pb = 1245 P,..•••ur•• pslg

Fig. 7-0il/water relative permeability. Fig. a-oil PVT data.

JPT • Ju!y 1993 667




BlOCK-i '

t: ... 000


Fig. 9-Pressure/productlon data. Fig. 10-Simulation grids.

History Matching to be modified. A series of simulation runs The comparison indicated that, although
As discussed, the first objective was to ob- was performed later in which vertical trans- wellblock pressures of the two models at any
tain a history match of the orthogonal model. missibilities of all layers along the faults timestep were different, they showed very
The strategy was to try various changes in were increased appropriately to generate similar pressure trends. Wellblock pressures
model parameters to match the observed more vertical communication between the of the nonorthogonal model generally were
pressure data from Zones A, B, and C. Af- three zones. Finally, a qualitative history higher by 50 to 150 psi in the east and south-
ter numerous changes in reservoir parame- match was obtained in which most wells west areas of the field and lowerby 100 to
ters, model pressures in Zone A were still have pressures matched within 50 psi. 200 psi in the west and northeast areas com-
higher than the actual data by 800 psi. In A history match was then performed on pared with the pressures from the orthogonal
Zones Band C, however, they were lower the nonorthogonal model using the same model (Figs. 11 and 12). In the central
than the actual data by 200 psi. matching reservoir parameters obtained (crestal) area, however, pressures obtained
To obtain a history match, communica- from the orthogonal model. The simulation from both models were almost identical.
tion levels between all three zones along the results from both models were subsequent- Figs. 13 through 16 compare pressure
faults, particularly in the crestal area, had ly analyzed and compared. matches from both models for four wells.

220000 230000 240000 220000 230000 240000

o ... <>
. ..
o <> <>
o o
<> o

o o .,.
o '"o
N <> '"


<> ) '" 0
<> ".,..
~ ~

<> <>
0 <> <>

0 0
<> <>
\ <> <>

o '"
<> o
o '"
g-r--------------------~------------------~g g-r--------------------r-------------------~g
~210000 230000 240000 g ~220000 230000 240000 g

Fig. 11-Model pressure for orthogonal model at 12 years. Fig. 12-Model pressure for nonorthogonal model at 12 years.

668 July 1993 • JPT


4 .4 4 ••
4.2 4 ••
4." 4.7

---. ----- ~-,-..
3 ••
3 ••

. ...
3 .4
... 3
3 .0

3 .0
2 .•
2 ." 3."
2.0 2 .4 3 ••
Non-orthogonal 2.2 3.7
t." orthogonal 2.0 3 ... Non-orthogonal
t . .. 3.5
1.0 3." Orthogonal
t .S
0.5 t.4
t .2
0.0 O.O!:--,--'--L.-'-;5;-.0~L........I--'-~~,-L-....L..-'-""t;-:"~.0,-L-"""''''-''''2'''0!-..0=-'"""--'' t.O
3.0 0 • 0
DAYS -385.25 5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0
D ....YS -3&5.25

Fig. i3-Model pressure match, Well 10. Fig. i4-Model pressure match, Well 18.

PSI ....
..... 10. 0
~:r~(.~"'Y PSi ....
---- ---------- ".0
3.a a.o 3 ."
3 ...
7.0 ~
3 .•

3.0 I- -- - - Non-orthogona 1 ".0
2." I- ".0 2.a
2." I- 2 ••
2." 4.0 2.4
2.2 2.2
2.0 3.0 2 .0
t." - - - - Non-orthogonal 1.a
t ... 2.0
- - Orthogonal t .•
t." t.o t . ..
t .2 1.2
1.0 •0 5 .0 , 0.0 1 5 .0 20.0 0 .0 1.0
0 0.0 5.0 20.0
D....YS -3.&. 25

Fig. 15-Model pressure match, Well 2. Fig. i6-Model pressur~ match, Well 1.

Wells No. 10 and No. 18 in the northeast waterflood performance predictions from 7. McCracken, T.A. and Yanosik, J.L.: "A
sector of the field showed very similar Zone both models are performed. Nine-Point, Finite Difference Reservoir Simu-
B pressure trends in both models (Figs. 13 lator for Realistic Prediction of Adverse Mo-
Acknowledgments bility Ratio Displacements," SPEl (Aug. 1979)
and 14). However, cell pressures from the
253-62; Trans., AIME, 267.
nonorthogonal model were higher by 20 to We thank the management of ADCO 8. Coats, K.H. and Modine, A.D.: "A Consis-
120 psi. In contrast, in Well No.2 in the Producing Co. for permission to publish this tent Method for Calculating Transmissibilities
southwest area, cell pressures from Zone C paper. We are especially grateful to H.G. in Nine-Point Difference Equations," paper
of the nonorthogonal model after 15 years Harrison, A.J . Awada. and Elizabeth AI- SPE 12248 presented at the 1983 SPE Reser-
of production were lower than those from Nazer for their assistance in preparing this voir Simulation Symposium, San Francisco,
the orthogonal model by 150 psi (Fig. 15). paper. Nov. 15-18.
9. Dalen, Y.: "Simplified Finite-Element Models
In the central area, where a high degree of for Reservoir Flow Problems," SPEl (Oct.
lateral and vertical conununication exists References 1979) 333-43; Trans., AIME, 267.
along the faults, Well No. I (Fig. 16) shows 1. Hegre, T.M. , Dalen, Y., and Henriquez, A. :
almost identical Zone B pressure trends from " Generalized Transmissibilities for Distorted 51 Metric Conversion Factors
both models. Grids in Reservoir Simulation," paper SPE
15622 presented at the 1986 SPE Annual Tech- bbl x 1.589 873 E-OI = m'
nical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, cp x 1.0 E+OO = mPa 's
Conclusions Oct. 5-8. ft x 3.048- E-OI = m
ft' x 2 .831 685 E-02 = m'
I . As expected, the nonorthogonal and or- 2. Goldthorpe, W.H. and Chow, Y.S.: "Uncon-
ventional Modeling of Faulted Reservoirs: A md x 9.869233 E-04 = I'm'
thogonal grid models provided noticeably mile X 1.609 344- E+OO = Ian
different simulation results. The discrepancy Case Study," paper SPE 13526 presented at sq mile X 2.589 988 E+OO = lan'
the 1985 SPE Reservoir Simulation Symposi- psi x 6.894 757 E+OO = kPa
in model pressures seems to be lower where um, Dallas, Feb. 10-13.
flow conununication is higher and vice 3. Sonier, F. and Chanumet, P.: "A Fully Im- 'Conversion factor is exact.
versa. plicit Three-Dimensional Model in Curvilinear
2. The history match obtained from the Coordinates," SPEl (Aug . 1974) 361-70; Provenance
orthogonal model was considered accept- Trans., AIME, 257.
4. Hirasaki, G.J. and O'DeU, P.M.: "Represen- Original SPE manuscript, Use of Or-
able. To obtain the same history-match re-
tation of Reservoir Geometry for Numerical thogonal and Nonorthogonal Grids for the
sults from the nonorthogonal model, the Simulation," SPEl (Dec. 1970) 393-404;
matching parameters from the orthogonal
Simulation of a Faulted Reservoir, re-
Trans., AIME, 249. ceived for review March 2, 1991. Revised
model must be modified, which can lead to 5. Leventhal, S.H., Klein, M.H., and Cuihan,
W.E. : "Curvilinear Coordinate Systems for manuscript received June 23, 1992 . Paper
a totally different representation of the
Reservoir Simulation," SPEl (Dec. 1985) accepted for publication May 10, 1993 .
893-901. Paper (SPE 21391) first presented at the
3. At the current stage of this study, only
6. Robertson, G.E. and Woo, P.T.: "Grid- 1991 SPE Middle East Oil Show held in
pressure data have been compared and ana- Orientation Effects and the Use of Orthogonal Bahrain, March 2-5 .
lyzed in detail. Saturation data will be com- Curvilinear Coordinates in Reservoir Simula-
pared in a future stage of the study when tion," SPEl (Feb. 1978) 13-19. JPT
JPT • July 1993 669