Numerical effects on the simulation of surfactant flooding for enhanced oil recovery

Olaitan Akinyele*, Karl D. Stephen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Numerical simulation of surfactant flooding using conventional reservoir simulation models can lead to unreliable forecasts and bad decisions due to the appearance of numerical effects. The simulations give approximate solutions to systems of nonlinear partial differential equations describing the physical behavior of surfactant flooding by combining multiphase flow in porous media with surfactant transport. The approximations are made by discretization of time and space which can lead to spurious pulses or deviations in the model outcome. In this work, the black oil model was simulated using the decoupled implicit method for various conditions of reservoir scale models to investigate behavior in comparison with the analytical solution obtained from fractional flow theory. We investigated changes to cell size and time step as well as the properties of the surfactant and how it affects miscibility and flow. The main aim of this study was to understand pulse like behavior in the water bank, which we report for the first time, Our aim was to identify their cause and associated conditions. The pulses are induced by a sharp change in relative permeability as the interfacial tension changes. Pulses are diminished when adsorption is modeled, and ranged from 0.0002 kg/kg to 0.0005 kg/kg. The pulses are absent for high-resolution model of 5000 cells in x direction with a typical cell size as used in well-scale models. The growth or dampening of these pulses may vary from case to case but in this instance was a result of the combined impact of relative mobility, numerical dispersion, interfacial tension and miscibility. Oil recovery under the numerical problems reduced the performance of the flood, due to large amounts of pulses produced. Thus, it is important to improve existing models and use appropriate guidelines to stop oscillations and remove errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-881
Number of pages17
JournalComputational Geosciences
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Numerical dispersion
  • Oil recovery
  • Reservoir simulation
  • Surfactant flood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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