Closed-loop Reservoir Management

The world’s energy demand is ever growing. In order for hydrocarbon production to keep up with the growing demand, it is essential to increase the amount of oil that is extracted from mature oil fields. Together with Shell and TNO, TU Delft is looking at ways to improve the recovery factor of existing oil fields.

Oil recovery
To extract oil from an oil field, several methods are available. Primary recovery produces oil and gas using the natural pressure of the reservoir as the driving force to push the hydrocarbon to the surface. On average, less than 30 percent of a field’s oil can be extracted this way. To further increase recovery, secondary and tertiary recovery techniques are used, where the reservoir pressure is maintained by injecting gas or water (secondary) or other gasses or heat (tertiary), pushing the oil towards the production wells. TU Delft researchers are developing techniques to better control these injection and production processes in order to increase hydrocarbon production.  

Within the Closed-loop Reservoir Management project, the focus is on developing concepts and algorithms to improve hydrocarbon production using measurement and control. Inspired by the measurement and control theory as applied to meteorology or the process industry, we developed reservoir models that are continually updated based on data from different sources, such as production sensors, remote sensing and time-lapse seismic.

Practical use
One of the most important results of the TU Delft’s research into Closed-loop Reservoir Management is a method to increase the recovery factor of oil fields. The method is based on the optimisation of injection and production rates during water flooding with so-called 'smart wells'. Smart wells allow for inflow control from the reservoir in individual segments. Our researchers developed a technique to predict the optimal change of injection and production rates with time, in particular for use in smart wells.

Our current focus is on the development of techniques to assimilate data from various sources to keep our reservoir models up to date and to update our computer models of flow in the subsurface, just like people in weather forecasting use data from satellites or weather balloons to update their computer models of flow in the atmosphere. Moreover, we try to extend our methods from just water flooding to more advanced tertiary or enhanced recovery techniques such as gas flooding or foam flooding.

Several TU Delft PhD students and staff members are involved in this research project and we closely cooperate with other TU Delft departments, such as the Delft Centre for Systems and Control and the Delft Institute of Applied Mathematics. It is part of the Integrated System Approach Petroleum Production (ISAPP) project, a joint research project initiated by TNO, TU Delft and Shell. Over 20 PhD students are working on the ISAPP project, which aims to increase hydrocarbon recovery through the application of innovative reservoir development and management technologies.

To learn more about our research into Closed-loop Reservoir Management, please contact Jan Dirk Jansen.
Telephone: +31 (0)15 278 7838

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