Dutta, Sourav (2017-07). Mathematical Models and Numerical Methods for Porous Media Flows Arising in Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • We study multiphase, multicomponent flow of incompressible fluids through porous media. Such flows are of vital interest in various applied science and engineering disciplines like geomechanics, groundwater flow and soil-remediation, construction engineering, hydrogeology, biology and biophysics, manufacturing of polymer composites, reservoir engineering, etc. In particular, we study chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques like polymer and surfactant-polymer (SP) flooding in two space dimensions. We develop a mathematical model for incompressible, immiscible, multicomponent, two-phase porous media flow by introducing a new global pressure function in the context of SP flooding. This model consists of a system of flow equations that incorporates the effect of capillary pressure and also the effect of polymer and surfactant on viscosity, interfacial tension and relative permeabilities of the two phases. We propose a hybrid method to solve the coupled system of equations for global pressure, water saturation, polymer concentration and surfactant concentration in which the elliptic global pressure equation is solved using a discontinuous finite element method and the transport equations for water saturation and concentrations of the components are solved by a Modified Method Of Characteristics (MMOC) in the multicomponent setting. We also prove convergence of the hybrid method by assuming an optimal O(h) order estimate for the gradient of the pressure obtained using the discontinuous finite element method and using this estimate to analyze the convergence of the MMOC method for the transport system. The novelty in this proof is the convergence analysis of the MMOC procedure for a nonlinear system of transport equations as opposed to previous results which have only considered a single transport equation. For this purpose, we consider an analogous single-component system of transport equations and discuss the possibility of extending the analysis to multicomponent systems. We obtain error estimates for the transport variables and these estimates are validated numerically in two ways. Firstly, we compare them with numerical error estimates obtained using an exact solution. Secondly, we also compare these estimates with results obtained from realistic numerical simulations of flows arising in enhanced oil recovery processes. This mathematical model and hybrid numerical procedure have been successfully applied to solve a variety of configurations representing different chemical flooding processes arising in EOR. We perform numerical simulations to validate the method and to demonstrate its robustness and efficiency in capturing the details of the various underlying physical and numerical phenomena. We introduce a new technique to test for the influence of grid alignment on the numerical results and apply this technique on the hybrid method to show that the grid orientation effect is negligible. We perform simulations using different types of heterogeneous permeability field data which include piecewise discontinuous fields, channel-like fractures, real world SPE10 models and multiscale fields generated using a stationary, isotropic, fractal Gaussian distribution. Finally, we also use the method to compare the relative performance of flooding schemes with different injection profiles both in a quarter five-spot as well as a rectangular reservoir geometry.

publication date

  • July 2017