Multi-stage upscaling: Selection of suitable methods

Gillian E. Pickup, K. D. Stephen, J. Ma, P. Zhang, J. D. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Reservoirs are often composed of an assortment of rock types giving rise to permeability heterogeneities at a variety of length-scales. To predict fluid flow at the full-field scale, it is necessary to be aware of these different types of heterogeneity, to recognise which are likely to have important effects on fluid flow, and to capture them by upscaling. In fact, we may require a series of stages of upscaling to go from small-scales (mm or cm) to a full-field model. When there are two (or more) phases present, we also need to know how these heterogeneities interact with fluid forces (capillary, viscous and gravity). We discuss how these effects may be taken into account by upscaling. This study focusses on the effects of steady-state upscaling for viscous-dominated floods and tests carried out on a range of 2D models are described. Upscaling errors are shown to be reduced slightly by the increase in numerical dispersion at the coarse scale. We select a combination of three different upscaling methods, and apply this approach to a model of a North Sea oil reservoir in a deep marine environment. Six different genetic units (rock types) were identified, including channel sandstone and inter-bedded sandstone and mudstone. These units were modelled using different approaches, depending on the nature of the heterogeneities. Our results show that the importance of small-scale heterogeneity depends on the large-scale distribution of the rock types. Upscaling may not be worthwhile in sparsely distributed genetic units. However, it is important in the dominant rock type, especially if there is good connectivity through the unit between the injector wells (or aquifer) and the producer wells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-216
Number of pages26
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • Balance of forces
  • Permeability heterogeneity
  • Permeability upscaling


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