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Unlocking reserves not yet considered profitable and increasing recovery to the very limits of feasibility has crucial implications. To meet these decisive challenges, our R&D teams are working on technical solutions that will improve our understanding of reservoirs, from characterization to reservoir simulation.

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Jean-Pierre Duneau

R&D

Lower costs for maximizing reserves and recovery from our fields

A very substantial volume of oil and gas currently remains “locked” in the ground due to a lack of economically viable development technologies. The role of the Field Reservoir Program is, precisely, to come up with innovative technical solutions for extracting those resources cost-effectively.

Accomplishing this will demand a finer understanding of the reservoirs’ petrophysical characteristics and fluid flow dynamics within the porous media, from the microscopic scale of the pore network to scale of the field itself. A multi-scale approach is essential to identifying and understanding the many processes involved in fluid transport. It will further the definition of a new generation of physical equations that can be integrated into our reservoir simulations so they become increasingly representative of reality.

These qualitative advances are key to improving the resolution of our models and the accuracy of our production simulations. With our target reservoirs becoming ever more diverse and complex, achieving those advances will entail:

  • Improving our understanding and modeling of physical-chemical phenomena from the molecular scale to the field scale;
  • Mastering the data-management chain (acquisition, processing and integration of data);
  • Enhancing the resolution and fidelity of integrated reservoir models.

Combining the above advances with the development of low-cost Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) technologies that can be easily adapted to our assets portfolio will deliver the key to long-lasting production of economic reserves.

Our R&D priorities

To achieve a better grasp of reservoir parameters – the key to optimized developments – we are focusing our research on four priority areas:

  • Understanding physical phenomena at every scale in order to generate more detailed models of the ones most relevant to our developments and overcome the technological barriers that currently impede recovery at the microscopic scale;
  • Enhancing microscopic and macroscopic recovery factors by deploying innovative recovery techniques as extensively as possible, in line with a clearly stated goal of cost-cutting;
  • Developing new-generation reservoir modeling tools tailored to the complexity of our targets, along with an integrated modeling workflow that includes all phenomena liable to affect our production, particularly geomechanics;
  • Ensuring that data acquired by both direct and indirect means is used promptly and optimally to shorten the time needed for analytics and reduce the related uncertainties.

Five R&D Projects covering four areas

The Field Reservoir Program comprises five R&D Projects that cover the chain of innovations needed to optimize production mechanisms and increase our reserves.

Flow

Studies under this project aim to maximize our knowledge of the physics of flow through porous media to propel us to the forefront of this field and help consolidate our leadership in reservoir simulation.

In line with the overarching goal of covering an ever-greater spectrum of formation characteristics and production mechanisms, research under this project is directed at three main aims:

  • Achieving better understanding and modeling of the influence of wettability properties of reservoir rock (water-wet or oil-wet) on pore-scale recovery performance;
  • Developing Digital Rock Physics techniques to visualize fluid flows and their impacts at the microscopic scale, as well as multi-scale tools to simulate petrophysical characteristics in porous media from pore scale to core scale;
  • Contributing to the development of the INTERSECT reservoir simulator, the new-generation simulation tool co-owned by Total, to achieve reasonable computing times for handling complex reservoir models and to model advanced processes, such as those involved in EOR.

Enhanced Oil Recovery

Cost reduction is the primary goal of our R&D efforts in the field of EOR, which is strategic for maximizing the production from our fields. It will require optimizations across the complete EOR chain, from subsurface to surface. Two R&D Projects are devoted to this area.

 

For our assets portfolio, the greatest cost-cutting potential lies in techniques consisting in injecting chemicals (polymers, surfactants, alkalis); miscible gases combined with foams to control mobility; or water with a modified composition or low salinity. Accordingly, a number of studies are under way focusing notably on one of the strategic targets of Total’s portfolio: the high-temperature/high-salinity reservoirs of the Middle East.

  • Thermal EOR

This Project seeks to accelerate the development of new technological approaches that feature both low costs and low CO2 emissions. The aim is to enhance the efficiency of the in situ thermal stimulation methods without steam injection which is usually needed to extract viscous oils (> 10 cP) in both sandstone and fractured carbonate reservoirs, and in all types of configuration (e.g., reservoir depths ranging from shallow to deeply buried, offshore reservoirs, etc.).

Reservoir Earth Modeling

The aim of this Project is to bring us to the state of the art in model-building techniques to improve the fidelity of the models we use to predict field behavior throughout their producing lives.

The tools we develop are intended for integration into Sismage-CIG (Integrated Geomodeling Software Suite), a proprietary platform that spans the complete modeling workflow. Truly instrumental to better uncertainty management, our proprietary tools contribute to the design of more efficient, more robust development architectures.

Project priorities include:

  • Defining new mesh-generating tools (in correlation with adaptations to numerical simulators that allow them to handle the new types of meshes, known as unstructured meshes) for enhanced model resolution: the variable size of the cells will allow us to “zoom in” to zones of interest by increasing the density of calculations in sections where characteristics change fastest and are the most complex;
  • Integrating the geomechanics component into the modeling workflow to understand how depletion or injection affect production over the life of the field, allowing us to optimize both the economics and the safety of our development projects.

Field Data Integration

The aim of this Project is to develop tools for accelerating – and lowering the cost of  – data acquisition and interpretation, to promote the widespread use of real-time monitoring. Studies focus in particular on logging data and downhole flow measurements, as well as on developing tools for acquiring and interpreting measurements of noble gases as a new type of tracer of fluid properties.

Research & Development

The Driving Force Behind Total’s Competitiveness

Reservoir

Chemical EOR: an Ever-Growing Field of Application

Best Innovators

Modular EOR Skids Turnkey