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Toward accurate reservoir simulations on unstructured grids: design of simple error estimators and critical benchmarking of consistent discretization methods for practical implementation


In this paper, we aim to identify discretization errors caused by non-K-orthogonal grids upfront through simple preprocessing tools and perform a comparative study of a set of representative, state-of-the-art, consistent discretizations [multipoint flux approximation (MPFA-O), mimetic finite difference (MFD), nonlinear two-pointflux approximation (NTPFA, TPFA), and average multipoint flux approximation (AvgMPFA)] to select the method most suited for inclusion in a commercial reservoir simulator. To predict the potential impact of discretization errors, we propose two types of error indicators. Static indicators measure the degree of nonconsistency of the two-point method at a cell level, and dynamic indicators measure how local discretization errors affect flow paths. The latter are computed using a series of idealized tracer simulations. By changing monitoring and injection points, one can mimic the reservoir-development strategy and thus focus on the errors introduced on quantities of real interest.

To assess the practical usability of various consistent methods and validate our new error indicators, we use a set of representative grid models generated by contemporary commercial tools, for which we discuss static error indicators and compare tracer responses for the various discretization methods. We also compare degrees of freedom, sparsity, and the condition number of the alternative methods and discuss challenges related to their practical implementation. Our results indicate that tracer simulations constitute an efficient tool to identify and classify discretization errors and quantify their potential impact. We observe distinctively different behavior with the inconsistent two-point method and the consistent methods, which agree closely in terms of accuracy of the response. We also note a deficiency in the commercial realization of so-called Depogrids, which can result in unnecessarily complicated polytopal cells with hundreds of faces. Our overall conclusion is that NTPFA and AvgMPFA are the most viable solutions for integration into a commercial simulator, with the linear AvgMPFA method being the least invasive.


Academic article





  • SINTEF Digital / Mathematics and Cybernetics
  • Italy



Published in

SPE Journal




Society of Petroleum Engineers






4109 - 4127

View this publication at Cristin