Simulation of foam enhanced-oil-recovery processes using operator-based linearization approach

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Foam injection is a promising enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) technology that significantly improves the sweep efficiency of gas injection. Simulation of foam/oil displacement in reservoirs is an expensive process for conventional simulation because of the strongly nonlinear physics, such as multiphase flow and transport with oil/foam interactions. In this work, an operator-based linearization (OBL) approach, combined with the representation of foam by an implicit-texture (IT) model with two flow regimes, is extended for the simulation of the foam EOR process. The OBL approach improves the efficiency of the highly nonlinear foam-simulation problem by transforming the discretized nonlinear conservation equations into a quasilinear form using state-dependent operators. The state-dependent operators are approximated by discrete representation on a uniform mesh in parameter space. The numerical-simulation results are validated by using three-phase fractional-flow theory for foam/oil flow. Starting with an initial guess depending on the fitting of steady-state experimental data with oil, the OBL foam model is regressed to experimental observations using a gradient-optimization technique. A series of numerical validation studies is performed to investigate the accuracy of the proposed approach. The numerical model shows good agreement with analytical solutions at different conditions and with different foam parameters. With finer grids, the resolution of the simulation is better, but at the cost of more expensive computations. The foam-quality scan is accurately fitted to steady-state experimental data, except in the low-quality regime. In this regime, the used IT foam model cannot capture the upward-tilting pressure gradient (or apparent viscosity) contours. 1D and 3D simulation results clearly demonstrate two stages of foam propagation from inlet to outlet, as seen in the computed-tomography (CT) coreflood experiments: weak foam displaces most of the oil, followed by a propagation of stronger foam at lower oil saturation. OBL is a direct method to reduce nonlinearity in complex physical problems, which can significantly improve computational performance. Taking its accuracy and efficiency into account, the data-driven OBL-based approach could serve as a platform for efficient numerical upscaling to field-scale applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberSPE-205399-PA
Pages (from-to)2287-2304
Number of pages18
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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