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Fundamentals of Reservoir Understanding

An industry tendency to resort to overly complicated modelling and simulation software is being challenged in the existing low oil-price environment. Some are now utilising low-cost solutions, highlighting the fundamentals of reservoir theory and returning to proven analytical tools.
This article appeared in Vol. 13, No. 5 - 2016

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75 years ago - February 1941 to be precise - at the New York meeting of the American Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Messrs. S. F. Buckley and M. C. Leverett of Humble Oil & Refining Company, Houston, Texas, presented their thoughts and workings on the mechanism of fluid displacement in sands. The O&G industry refer to this as Buckley-Leverett Fractional-Flow Theory and it is a fundamental of how oil fields are flooded and produced. 

The reservoir engineers toolkit. Just a few weeks after Mr Buckley and Mr Leverett had made their presentation in March 1941, across the Atlantic on the Isle of Man in the British Isles, a boy was born - Laurence Patrick Dake. Known to the E&P industry as Laurie Dake, he provided us with the rules of reservoir engineering with his books, The Fundamentals of Reservoir Engineering and The Practice of Reservoir Engineering (Elsevier). 

The oil industry has developed a tendency to resort too quickly to overly complicated, multi-million cell models in overly expensive modelling and simulation software. In the existing low oil-price environment, technically driven subsurface consultancies, such as the Isle of Man-based MMbbls Ltd., are utilising web-tech low-cost solutions to highlight the fundamentals of reservoir understanding and are returning to the proven mathematics and analytical modelling developed by Buckley, Leverett, Welge, Darcy and Archie and to the reservoir engineering rules taught so clearly by Dake. 

A copy of Dake and a well-constructed spreadsheet or web-app should be a prerequisite for any decent reservoir engineer well before running any complex model in hundred-thousand-dollar simulation software.

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