Development of an efficient embedded discrete fracture model for 3D compositional reservoir simulation in fractured reservoirs

Ali Moinfar, Abdoljalil Varavei, Kamy Sepehrnoori, Russell T. Johns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

424 Scopus citations


Many naturally fractured reservoirs around the world have depleted significantly, and improved-oil-recovery (IOR) processes are necessary for further development. Hence, the modeling of fractured reservoirs has received increased attention recently. Accurate modeling and simulation of naturally fractured reservoirs (NFRs) is still challenging because of permeability anisotropies and contrasts. Nonphysical abstractions inherent in conventional dual-porosity and dual-permeability models make them inadequate for solving different fluid-flow problems in fractured reservoirs. Also, recent technologies for discrete fracture modeling may suffer from large simulation run times, and the industry has not used such approaches widely, even though they give more-accurate representations of fractured reservoirs than dual-continuum models. We developed an embedded discrete fracture model (DFM) for an in-house compositional reservoir simulator that borrows the dual-medium concept from conventional dual-continuum models and also incorporates the effect of each fracture explicitly. The model is compatible with existing finite-difference reservoir simulators. In contrast to dual-continuum models, fractures have arbitrary orientations and can be oblique or vertical, honoring the complexity of a typical NFR. The accuracy of the embedded DFM is confirmed by comparing the results with the fine-grid, explicit-fracture simulations for a case study including orthogonal fractures and a case with a nonaligned fracture. We also perform a grid-sensitivity study to show the convergence of the method as the grid is refined. Our simulations indicate that to achieve accurate results, the embedded discrete fracture model may only require moderate mesh refinement around the fractures and hence offers a computationally efficient approach. Furthermore, examples of waterflooding, gas injection, and primary depletion are presented to demonstrate the performance and applicability of the developed method for simulating fluid flow in NFRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-303
Number of pages15
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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