Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Direct Simulation of Near-Borehole Mechanics
This project was funded through DOE's Natural Gas and Oil Technology Partnership
Program. The program establishes alliances that combine the resources and experience
of the Nation's petroleum industry with the capabilities of the National Laboratories
to expedite research, development, and demonstration of advanced technologies
for improved natural gas and oil recovery.
The goal of this project was to develop generalized two- and three-dimensional
coupled models for the direct simulation of near-wellbore mechanics. The models
were applied to investigate and quantify a suite of industry-selected problems
in the near-wellbore region that control the completion and production techniques
employed by the industry.
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL)
A two-tiered industry partnership was established to encourage maximum industry
participation. Companies able to commit financial resources to the project have
entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Sandia.
To date, ChevronTexaco, Halliburton, and Shell have joined the CRADA.
The numerical formulation and development of the computer codes has been validated.
The two-dimensional version of the coupled code, SandFlow2D, has been refined
and now supports interactive model setup and visualization for both Darcy and
lattice-Boltzmann fluid flow and particle transport simulations.
The new computer codes will improve simulation of three-dimensional models fluid
flow for near-wellbore areas. This will allow operators to maximize completion
practices in the near-wellbore zone.
Several geomechanical processes in the petroleum industry, including sand production,
hydraulic fracturing, and slurry injection, are dominated by the interaction
of fluid and solid particles in the near-wellbore region. Our understanding
of these processes and our associated predictive capabilities have been limited
by continuum modeling approaches and difficult-to-perform experimental studies.
Continuum models overlook the detailed solid-fluid interactions from which macroscopic
system properties and behavior emerge, while experimental inquiries have been
thwarted by the fine scale and complexity of these many-body systems. An alternative
approach is to simulate the near-wellbore region at the grain scale.
However, until recently, the direct simulation of these dynamic, three-dimensional
solid-fluid systems has proven computationally intractable. Rapid increases
in computational resources, combined with the development of efficient and robust
modeling schemes, are ushering in an exciting era of simulation-based discovery
in the behavior and prediction of near-wellbore mechanics.
Leveraging these developments, the goal of this project is to develop an unprecedented
computational capability for the direct and high-fidelity simulation of the
solid and fluid phases in the near-wellbore region, fully resolving the interaction
of individual solid particles (and particle assemblages) with other solid particles
and the surrounding oil or water. The project provides petroleum engineers with
a computational laboratory that can be used to investigate the physical processes
controlling such outstanding challenges as sand production, hydraulic fracture
initiation, and wellbore stability in weakly consolidated sandstone formations.
Model applications are expected to lead to fundamental insights that will greatly
enhance our understanding of wellbore mechanics and stability.
The initial focus of the project was on the refinement and implementation of
the numerical scheme into a powerful, easy-to-use simulation environment for
the computational exploration of near-wellbore physics. A serial two-dimensional
code has been developed for the simulation of small problems. Further work will
focus on two R&D thrusts: 1) model testing and large-scale application of
the two-dimensional code in industry-selected problem areas; and 2) continued
development of the three-dimensional capability. A parallel two-dimensional
version will be developed in the next year for large-scale applications. This
code will support the simulation of O (105) particles forced by fluid, enabling
the more realistic application of the code to a variety of industry problems.
A serial, three-dimensional version of the coupled model was developed in tandem
in recognition of the inherent three dimensionality of the problems of interest.
Current Status (October 2005)
The project is complete.
Project Start: April 12, 2001
Project End: April 11, 2005
Anticipated DOE Contribution: $375,000
Performer Contribution: $240,000 (39% of total)
NETL - Paul West (email@example.com or 918-699-2035)
SNL - Ben Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-844-3795)