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Numerical Methods for PDEs: In Occasion of Raytcho Lazarov's 70th Birthday

Zhangxing Chen, University of Calgary
Numerical Simulation of Unconventional Oil and Gas Reservoirs


Mathematical models have widely been used to predict, understand, and optimize complex physical processes in modeling and simulation of multiphase fluid flow in petroleum reservoirs. These models are important for understanding the fate and transport of chemical species and heat. With this understanding the models are then applied to the needs of the petroleum industry to design enhanced oil and gas recovery strategies.

While mathematical modeling and computer simulation have been successful in their application to the recovery of conventional oil and gas, there still exist a lot of challenges in their application to unconventional oil and gas modeling. As conventional oil and gas reserves dwindle and oil prices rise, the recovery of unconventional oil and gas (such as heavy oil, oil sands, tight gas, and shale gas) is now the center stage. For example, enhanced heavy oil recovery technologies are an intensive research area in the petroleum industry, and have recently generated a battery of recovery methods, such as cyclic steam stimulation (CSS), steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), vapor extraction (VAPEX), in situ combustion (ISC), hybrid steam-solvent processes, and other emerging recovery processes, and horizontal well and hydraulic fracturing technologies have been very successful in the production of tight and shale reservoirs. This presentation will give an overview on challenges encountered in modeling and simulation of these recovery processes: insufficient physics/chemistry in current models, multi-scale phenomena, phase behavior, geomechanics, assisted history matching with closed-loop optimization, transport of solvents, wellbore modeling, and four-phase flow. It will also present some case studies for the applications of these recovery processes to real heavy oilfields and shale gas reservoirs.