Reservoir monitoring using borehole radars to improve oil recovery

Suggestions from 3D electromagnetic and fluid modeling

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The recently developed smart well technology allows for sectionalized production control by means of downhole inflow control valves and monitoring devices. We consider borehole radars as permanently installed downhole sensors to monitor fluid evolution in reservoirs, and it provides the possibility to support a proactive control for smart well production. To investigate the potential of borehole radar on monitoring reservoirs, we establish a 3D numerical model by coupling electromagnetic propagation and multiphase flow modeling in a bottom-water drive reservoir environment. Simulation results indicate that time-lapse downhole radar measurements can capture the evolution of water and oil distributions in the proximity (order of meters) of a production well, and reservoir imaging with an array of downhole radars successfully reconstructs the profile of a flowing water front. With the information of reservoir dynamics, a proactive control procedure with smart well production is conducted. This method observably delays the water breakthrough and extends the water-free recovery period. To assess the potential benefits that borehole radar brings to hydrocarbon recovery, three production strategies are simulated in a thin oil rim reservoir scenario, i.e., a conventional well production, a reactive production, and a combined production supported by borehole radar monitoring. Relative to the reactive strategy, the combined strategy further reduces cumulative water production by 66.89%, 1.75%, and 0.45% whereas it increases cumulative oil production by 4.76%, 0.57%, and 0.31%, in the production periods of 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years, respectively. The quantitative comparisons reflect that the combined production strategy has the capability of accelerating oil production and suppressing water production, especially in the early stage of production. We suggest that borehole radar is a promising reservoir monitoring technology, and it has the potential to improve oil recovery efficiency.