In the oil and gas industry, reservoir modeling involves the construction of a computer model of a petroleum reservoir, for the purposes of improving estimation of reserves and making decisions regarding the development of the field.

A reservoir model represents the physical space of the reservoir by an array of discrete cells, delineated by a grid which may be regular or irregular. The array of cells is usually three dimensional, although 1D and 2D models are sometimes used. Values for attributes such as porosity, permeability and water saturation are associated with each cell. The value of each attribute is implicitly deemed to apply uniformly throughout the volume of the reservoir represented by the cell.

Types of reservoir model

Reservoir models typically fall into two categories:

Sometimes a single "shared earth model" is used for both purposes. More commonly, a geological model is constructed at a relatively high (fine) resolution. A coarser grid for the reservoir simulation model is constructed, with perhaps two orders of magnitude fewer cells. Effective values of attributes for the simulation model are then derived from the geological model by a process of "upscaling". Alternatively, if no geological model exists, the attribute values for a simulation model may be determined by a process of sampling geological maps.

Uncertainty in the true values of the reservoir properties is sometimes investigated by constructing several different realizations of the sets of attribute values. The behaviour of the resulting simulation models can then indicate the associated level of economic uncertainty.

The phrase "reservoir characterization" is sometimes used to refer to reservoir modeling activities up to the point when a simulation model is ready to simulate the flow of fluids.

Commercially available software is used in the construction, simulation and analysis of the reservoir models.

See also