Streamline and streamtube methods have been used in fluid flow computations for many years. Early applications for hydrocarbon reservoir simulation were first reported by Fay and Pratts in the 1950s. Streamline-based flow simulation has made significant advances in the last 15 years. Today's simulators are fully three-dimensional and fully compressible and they account for gravity as well as complex well controls. Most recent advances also allow for compositional and thermal displacements.
In this paper, we present a comprehensive review of the evolution and advancement of streamline simulation technology. This paper offers a general overview of most of the material available in the literature on the subject. This work includes the review of more than 200 technical papers and gives a chronological advancement of streamline simulation technology from 1996 to 2011. Firstly, three major areas are identified. These are development of streamline simulators, enhancements to current streamline simulators and applications. In view of the fact that this state of-the-art technology has been employed for a wide range of applications, we defined three major application areas that symbolize the relevance and validity of streamline simulation in addressing reservoir engineering concerns. These are history matching, reservoir management and upscaling, ranking and characterization of fine-grid geological models.
Streamline simulation has undergone several phases within its short stretch in the petroleum industry. Initially, the main focus was on the speed advantage and less on fluid flow physics. Next, the focus was shifted to extend its applicability to more complex issues such as compositional and thermal simulations, which require the inclusion of more physics, and potentially reducing the advantage of computational time. Recently, the focus has shifted towards the application of streamline technologies to areas where it can complement finite difference simulation such as revealing important information about drainage areas, flood optimization and improvement of sweep efficiency, quantifying uncertainties, etc.
Introduction of Streamlines Simulation
Streamlines are integrated curves that are locally tangential to a defined velocity field at a given instant in time (Datta-Gupta 2007 and Thiele et al. 2010) as illustrated in Figure 1. Modeling fluid flow and transport using streamlines dates back to the study of well pattern and total recovery by Muskat and Wyckoff in 1934. Streamline-based flow simulation has made significant advances in the last 15 years. A great historical overview of the earlier streamlines work was presented by Batycky (1997), Datta-Gupta and King (1998), Thiele (2001), Moreno et al. (2004), Datta-Gupta (2007).