We propose a novel approach for rate optimization during a waterflood under geologic uncertainty in reservoir properties such as permeability and porosity. The traditional approach typically involves several runs of the forward simulator. This may not scale well when the optimization is to be performed at the full field-level and over multiple geologic realizations. A machine-learning (ML) based approach which is quick and scalable for rate optimization over multiple geologic realizations is proposed instead. The training data for the model is generated by running the forward simulator with randomly assigned well rates using multiple geologic realizations. A reduced order representation of the permeability heterogeneity in each of the realizations is derived using a grid connectivity transformation (GCT). This step involves finding basis functions corresponding to the different modal frequencies of the grid connectivity represented by the grid Laplacian. The projection of the heterogeneous property field along these basis functions gives the basis coefficients that form the reduced order representation. Subsequently, for each training datapoint, streamlines are traced and the minimum time of flight (TOF) representing the tracer breakthrough time at each producer is recorded. The basis coefficients and well rates are fed to a machine learning model as input and the minimum TOF at the producers forms the output of the model. This trained model can then be used along with an optimizer for computing the optimal injection rates to maximize the injection sweep efficiency. This corresponds to minimizing the variance in the minimum TOF within each well group. Different architectures of neural network are tested using 5-fold cross validation to decide the best ML model to compute the streamline time of flight. The trained model is used to perform well rate optimization over multiple realizations of geology by using a risk tolerance penalty. The optimal well rates thus obtained are compared with two cases: a) equal well rates assigned to all injectors and producers and b) well rates obtained by optimizing over a single realization without considering the uncertainty in geology. The optimal well rates are seen to offer better oil recovery and sweep efficiency than both cases.
The workflow is tested for a 50x50 two-dimensional (2D) heterogenous permeability field and for the SPE benchmark Brugge field, and is seen to result in significant improvement in oil recovery and sweep efficiency. A single forward run of the trained ML model is faster than the conventional simulator by about 3 orders of magnitude, making the approach suitable for large scale field application accounting for geologic uncertainty. The parsimonious representation of geologic heterogeneity and the use of ML for forward modeling makes the approach highly scalable and well-suited for full field applications.