Many oil-producing countries around the world are rich in very large deposits of hydrocarbon resources that are no longer accessible due to inefficient exploitation. As a rule, the longer an oil field is exploited, the more difficult it becomes to get at the hydrocarbons inside; this problem is exacerbated when companies make no attempt to calculate the changing dynamics inside these wells.
Now, physicists and geologists from the Institute of Geosphere Dynamics, the Institute of Physics of the Earth, Moscow State University and their research partners from Saudi Arabia and Australia have developed a new program based on a time-tested algorithm to improve extraction efficiency by better calculating a well's changing dynamics over time, and taking better account of its fluctuating physical properties throughout its use.
The program takes advantage of a mathematical idea developed by Soviet scientists in the 1950s via a variation on the so-called finite difference method. The program's algorithm breaks down the computer model of a deposit into so-called voxels – values on a grid in a three-dimensional space. Each of these voxels has its own physical properties, which affect the flow of oil and other liquids through them. The model allows for a dramatic simplification of calculations of the processes taking place inside this three-dimensional space.
According to the scientists, their program will be sure to be of use not only for the oil sector, but for geological engineers, hydrogeologists, soil scientists, and any other specialists whose work requires calculations associated with the permeability of porous environments.
The program has been made freely available to download for anyone who is interested. A general description of the algorithm and its principles will be published in the May issue of the Computers & Sciences scientific journal.