Analysis of uncertainty introduced by scaleup of reservoir attributes and flow response in heterogeneous reservoirs

Juliana Y. Leung, Sanjay Srinivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Reservoir heterogeneities occur over a wide range of length scales, and their interaction with various transport mechanisms controls the performance of subsurface flow and transport processes. Modeling these processes at large scales requires proper scaleup of petrophysical properties that are autocorrelated or heterogeneously distributed in space, and analyzing their interaction with underlying transport mechanisms. A method is proposed to investigate and quantify the uncertainty in reservoir models introduced by scaleup. It is demonstrated that when the volume support of the measurement is smaller than the representative elementary volume (REV) scale of the attribute to be modeled, there is uncertainty in the conditioning data because of scaleup and that uncertainty has to be propagated to spatial models for the attribute. This important consideration is demonstrated for mapping total porosity for a carbonate reservoir in the Gulf of Mexico. The results demonstrate that in most cases, the uncertainty distributions obtained by accounting for the scaleup procedure successfully characterize the variability in the actual core and log data observed along new wells. Conventional reservoir models considering the well data as "hard" conditioning data fail to predict the "true" values. Following this discussion on scaling of reservoir attributes, a conceptual understanding of the scaling characteristics of flow responses such as recovery factor (RF) is provided, in terms of the mean and variance of RF at different length scales. Finally, a new technique is presented to systematically quantify the scaling characteristics of transport processes by accounting for subscale heterogeneities and their interaction with various transport mechanisms based on the volume averaging approach. The objective is to provide a tool for understanding the scaling relationships for RF using detailed fine-scale compositional reservoir simulations over a subdomain of the reservoir.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-724
Number of pages12
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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