Representing the complete spectrum of fine-scale stratigraphic details in full-field dynamic models of geologically complex clastic reservoirs is beyond the limits of existing computational capabilities. A quasiglobal multiphase upscaling method—the regional-scale multiphase upscaling (RMU) method—is developed, in which the dynamic effects of subgrid-scale (typically subseismic) nonlocal stratigraphic reservoir elements (e.g., channels, lobes, sand bars, and shale drapes) are captured by means of pseudofunctions for flow simulation. Unlike conventional dynamic multiphase upscaling methods, the RMU method does not require fine-resolution reservoir-scale simulations. Rather, it relies on intermediate-scale sector-model simulations for pseudoization. The intermediate scale, also referred to as the regional scale, is defined as the spatial scale at which the global multiphase flow effects of nonlocal stratigraphic elements can be approximated by fine-resolution flow simulations with reasonable accuracy. During the pseudoization process, dynamic multiphase flow responses of coarse regional-scale sector models are calibrated against those stemming from their corresponding fine-resolution parent models. Each regional-scale sector model is simulated only once at the fine geologic resolution. The process involves automatic determination and subsequent modification of the parameters that describe rock relative permeability and capillary pressure functions. Coarse regional-scale models are simulated a few times until a reasonable match between their coarse- and fine-resolution dynamic responses can be attained. The parameter-estimation step of the pseudoization process is performed by use of a very efficient constrained nonlinear optimization algorithm.
The RMU method is evaluated in two proof-of-concept numerical examples involving a plethora of turbidite stratigraphic architectures. The method yields simulation results that are always more accurate than conventionally upscaled coarse-resolution-model predictions. Incorporating geologically based pseudofunctions into otherwise simple coarse-resolution full-field reservoir models reduces the simulation cycle time significantly and improves the accuracy of production forecasts. The RMU method typically delivers two to three orders of magnitude in speed up of flow simulations.