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A Framework to Design and Optimize Chemical Flooding Processes
Project Number

The goal is to provide an efficient and user-friendly simulation framework for screening and optimizing chemical enhanced oil recovery processes.


University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX


The oil industry today requires much more detailed analyses-with a greater demand for reservoir simulations with geological, physical, and chemical models-than it has in the past. Reservoir simulation has become an increasingly widespread and important tool for analyzing and optimizing oil recovery projects. Although reservoir simulation software is available, there still are many obstacles to its widespread use in the industry, in particular by small and medium-sized companies. Hence there is a pressing need to develop an easy-to-use framework for screening EOR processes. The UTCHEM simulator, developed over many years with DOE support, is clearly the most versatile reservoir simulator for chemical EOR processes. What's needed is an easy-to-use framework suitable for desktop computers to reduce the number of UTCHEM simulations needed to achieve a level of confidence in the uncertainty of key variables. This way, an operator can readily perform the economic analysis needed to develop an economically optimal design for a particular oil reservoir.

Project Results
A user-friendly and efficient platform called UT_IRSP has been designed and successfully implemented. The reservoir simulators currently included in the framework are VIP of Halliburton, ECLIPSE of Schlumberger, and UTCHEM. The UT_IRSP approach is used in field-scale development design and optimization projects.

An efficient approach has been developed and successfully implemented to obtain the optimum design under uncertainty for a wide range of reservoir simulation applications. This approach significantly reduces the time required to evaluate optimum designs for improved oil recovery processes. Researchers have performed several surfactant flooding simulations with different permeability and permeability heterogeneities, surfactant concentration, and slug size to identify the key variables that control project life and oil recovery using the experimental design and a simple discounted cash flow analysis.

The experimental design module then was used to design the simulations varying the primary variables such as reservoir permeability and heterogeneity, surfactant and polymer concentration, and slug size and the provided range for each.

A reservoir simulation package is being developed that includes uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, along with economic calculations for EOR processes. This simulation and optimization tool will be of a great benefit to industry, especially smaller oil producers.

Project Summary
Project researchers have developed a platform, Integrated Reservoir Simulation System, that integrates several oil reservoir simulators, an economic model, an experimental design and response surface methodology, and a Monte Carlo algorithm with a global optimization engine to develop an optimum design for chemical flooding under uncertainty.

Project objectives break out as:

  • Task 1, to develop three primary modules representing reservoir, chemical, and well data.
  • Task 2, to incorporate the UTCHEM reservoir simulator into the framework.
  • Task 3, to develop the economic model.
  • Task 4, to validate the framework.
Current Status

(July 2007)
The project is in close-out. All technical reports have been accepted as of December 2006.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

$115,532 (29% of total)

Contact Information

NETL - Betty Felber ( or 918-699-2031)
U. of Texas - Mojdeh Delshad (delshad@mail.utexas.eduor 512-471-3219)

Zhang, J., Delshad, M., Sepehrnoori, K., and Pope, G.A., "An Efficient Reservoir Simulation Approach to Design and Optimize Improved Oil Recovery Processes with Distributed Computing," SPE 94733, 2005 SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, June 20-23, 2005.

Zhang J., Delshad, M., and Sepehrnoori, K., "A Framework to Design and Optimize Surfactant-Enhanced Aquifer Remediation," SPE 94222-STU, 2005 SPE/EPA/DOE Exploration & Production Environmental Conference, Galveston, TX, March 7-9, 2005.

IRSS-Integrated Reservoir Simulation System.
IRSS-Integrated Reservoir Simulation System.
Response surface for surfactant concentration and adsorption.
Response surface for surfactant concentration and adsorption.