A Theoretical look at Ensemble-Based Optimization in Reservoir Management

Andreas S. Stordal*, Slawomir P. Szklarz, Olwijn Leeuwenburgh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Ensemble-based optimization has recently received great attention as a potentially powerful technique for life-cycle production optimization, which is a crucial element of reservoir management. Recent publications have increased both the number of applications and the theoretical understanding of the algorithm. However, there is still ample room for further development since most of the theory is based on strong assumptions. Here, the mathematics (or statistics) of Ensemble Optimization is studied, and it is shown that the algorithm is a special case of an already well-defined natural evolution strategy known as Gaussian Mutation. A natural description of uncertainty in reservoir management arises from the use of an ensemble of history-matched geological realizations. A logical step is therefore to incorporate this uncertainty description in robust life-cycle production optimization through the expected objective function value. The expected value is approximated with the mean over all geological realizations. It is shown that the frequently advocated strategy of applying a different control sample to each reservoir realization delivers an unbiased estimate of the gradient of the expected objective function. However, this procedure is more variance prone than the deterministic strategy of applying the entire ensemble of perturbed control samples to each reservoir model realization. In order to reduce the variance of the gradient estimate, an importance sampling algorithm is proposed and tested on a toy problem with increasing dimensionality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-417
Number of pages19
JournalMathematical Geosciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2015


  • Ensemble optimization
  • Gaussian mutation
  • Natural evolution
  • Production optimization
  • Robust optimization


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