It is well known that geological heterogeneity has a significant impact on flow during hydrocarbon production. However, most studies have focussed on a particular reservoir, used a particular suite of fluid properties, and simulated flow for a particular production scenario. Consequently, it is difficult to extract broad insights and generic messages from these studies. This project will test the novel hypothesis that geological heterogeneities can be captured by a number of key geometries, which are repeated in numerous depositional environments and over a broad range of length-scales. Likewise, flow can be captured by a number of key dimensionless numbers, which capture the contrast in fluid properties and the balance of forces driving the flow. In this way, an intractably large parameter space may collapse into one which can be addressed in a coherent study. The results will be used to guide subsurface reservoir model construction, allowing effort to be focused on those heterogeneities that have a significant impact on flow. They will also be used to provide understanding of how those heterogeneities affect flow.
This project will integrate petroleum geoscience and engineering with novel reservoir modelling and flow simulation techniques, to quantify the interaction of geological heterogeneity and flow using generic, dimensionless models of key geometries, and dimensionless versions of the governing flow equations. The successful applicant will join the NOvel Reservoir Modelling and Simulation (NORMS) group in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, which acts as a focus for the development and application of leading edge reservoir modelling and simulation technology (see http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/earthscienceandengineering/research/perm/norm
for more details).
The project is ideal for a numerate geologist, geophysicist, physicist, engineer or mathematician who is interested in multidisciplinary research which will advance our understanding of a significant problem. It will provide an ideal route into either an industry or academic career. Training will be provided where necessary in the state-of-the-art geological modelling and flow simulation software which will be used throughout the project.
The project is fully funded by ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company and offers an enhanced stipend relative to those normally offered by the UK Research Councils. The student will spend time working in the ExxonMobil offices in Houston, Texas. The anticipated start date for the project is 1st October 2013, but an earlier start is possible.