Nonlinear Model Predictive Control for Oil Reservoirs Management

Andrea Capolei

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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The current world average recovery factor from oil fields is widely agreed to be about 30-35%. An increase of 10% point of this recovery factor would bring about 500 billion of oil barrels, sufficient to meet 16 years of current global production. To realize this potential production increase, the research community is working on improving current feedback model-based optimal control technologies. The topic of this thesis is production optimization for water flooding in the secondary phase of oil recovery. We developed numerical methods for nonlinear model predictive control (NMPC) of an oil field. The controller consists of

-A model based optimizer for maximizing some predicted financial measure of the reservoir (e.g. the net present value).

-A parameter and state estimator.

-Use of the moving horizon principle for data assimilation and implementation of the computed control input.

The optimizer uses gradient-based optimization and the required gradients are computed by the adjoint method. We propose the use of efficient high order implicit time integration methods for the solution of the forward and the adjoint equations of the dynamical model. The Ensemble Kalman filter is used for data assimilation. Further, we studied the use of robust control strategies in both open-loop, i.e. without measurement feedback, and closed-loop, i.e. with measurement feedback, configurations.

This thesis has three main original contributions:

The first contribution in this thesis is to improve the computationally expensive gradient computation by using high-order ESDIRK (Explicit Singly Diagonally Implicit Runge-Kutta) temporal integration methods and continuous adjoints. The high order integration scheme allows larger time steps and therefore faster solution times. We compare gradient computation by the continuous adjoint method to the discrete adjoint method and the finite-difference method. We demonstrate that the optimization algorithm can be accelerated by using the continuous time adjoint equations. This is the first time in the literature that the higher order continuous adjoint and higher order discrete adjoint mehtods have been investigated for oil production optimization.

The second contribution of this thesis is the application of the Robust Optimization strategy in both open-loop (i.e. without measurement feedback) and closedloop (i.e. with measurement feedback). In the oil industry, Robust Optimization has been suggested to compensate for inherent geological uncertainties in an oil field. In robust optimization of an oil reservoir, the water injection and production borehole pressures are computed such that the predicted net present value of an ensemble of permeability field realizations is maximized. In our study, the permeability field is the uncertain parameters. We compare the performance of the RO strategy to a certainty equivalent optimization strategy, based on the ensemble mean of the permeability field realizations as its permeability field, and to a reactive strategy. In open-loop, for the case studied, the reactive strategy performed better than the open-loop RO strategy. These observations are nontrivial, as previous literature suggests that the open-loop RO strategy performs better than the reactive strategy. Simulations indicate that the inferior performance of the open-loop RO strategy compared to the reactive strategy is due to the inability of the RO strategy to efficiently encompass ensembles with very different and conflicting optimal control trajectories. Hence, we propose a modified RO strategy that allow shut in of uneconomical wells. The modified RO strategy performs significantly better than the other open-loop strategies and the reactive strategy. Finally, this is the first time in literature that the RO optimization has been investigated in closed-loop. Surprisingly, for the case studied, the closedloop certainty equivalent strategy yields a higher NPV than the closed-loop RO strategy. The uncertainty reduction of the permeability field estimate due to data assimilation explains the good performance of the closed-loop certainty equivalent optimization strategy. Consequently, in closed-loop, the increased computational effort of the RO strategy compared to the certainty equivalent strategy is not justified for the particular case studied in this paper.

The third contribution of this thesis is a mean-variance method for risk mitigation in production optimization of oil reservoirs. We introduce a return-risk bicriterion objective function for the profit-risk tradeoff. With this objective function we link the optimization problem in production optimization to the Markowitz portfolio optimization problem in finance or to the the robust design problem in topology optimization. In this study we focus on open-loop configuration, i.e. without measurement feedback. We demonstrate that a return-risk bi-criterion objective function is a valuable tool for the profit-risk tradeoff. If combined with the previous contribution, this result trigger the necessity of comparing the closed-loop CE strategy with the closed-loop MV strategy.

The thesis consists of a summary report and a collection of five research papers written during the period May 2010 to August 2013. Three papers are published in conference proceedings, one paper is published in Computational Geosciences journal and another paper is submitted to Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages199
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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