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Distinguished Author Series

Streamline Simulation:
A Technology Update
Akhil Datta-Gupta, SPE, Texas A&M U.

Introduction
Streamline and streamtube methods have been used by the
oil industry for several decades. In recent years, there has
been an increased interest in the technology. This is primarily driven by two factors. First, with the developments
in reservoir characterization, we can now routinely generate high-resolution reservoir models consisting of multimillion cells. This has resulted in a gap between geologic
modeling and flow simulation. Second, with increased
model resolution, there is an increased acknowledgment of
uncertainty. We are interested in assessment of uncertainty
in reservoir description and performance prediction with
multiple plausible reservoir models. Conventional
numerical simulators often are inadequate to satisfy these
needs in a timely fashion.
The primary advantages of streamline methods are
faster computation, improved accuracy (subgrid resolution and reduced numerical dispersion and grid-orientation effects), ability to screen highly detailed geologic
models, quantitative flow visualization, and rapid history
matching or production-data integration into high-resolution reservoir models. The speed and versatility of the
method have led to many novel applications. The disadvantages of streamline models are the difficulties in incorporating complex physical processes and cross-streamline
mechanisms. Streamline models are not a substitute for
conventional grid-based simulators but can play an
important role in bridging the gap between geologic modeling and flow simulation.
Background
Todays streamline simulation was preceded by at least
four other methods for modeling convection-dominated
flow in the reservoir. Line-source/sink methods have
been widely used by the petroleum industry.1,2 These
methods use analytic solutions to the pressure and velocity distribution in the reservoir. The primary limitation of
these methods is the requirement for homogeneous properties and constant reservoir thickness. Streamtube methods are more general and have been applied successfully
for field-scale modeling of waterflooding and miscible
flooding.3-5 In these methods, the flow domain is divided
into a number of streamtubes and fluid-saturation calculations are performed along these streamtubes. However,
the need to keep track of the streamtube geometries can
Copyright 2000 Society of Petroleum Engineers
This is paper SPE 65604. Distinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptive
representations that summarize the state of the art in an area of technology by describing
recent developments for readers who are not specialists in the topics discussed. Written by
individuals recognized as experts in the area, these articles provide key references to more
definitive work and present specific details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to
inform the general readership of recent advances in various areas of petroleum engineering.

become quite cumbersome in three dimensions. Thus,


most applications of streamtube methods have been limited to two dimensions or some form of hybrid approaches to account for 3D effects. Particle-tracking methods
have been used by the oil industry to model tracer transport in hydrocarbon reservoirs and also for groundwater
applications.6 These methods track the movement of a
statistically significant collection of particles along appropriate pathlines; while they generally work well near
steep fronts, they do not work as well for smooth profiles.
Another drawback is the loss of resolution of the front
with the progression of time and the statistical variance in
the concentration response. Finally, front-tracking methods introduce fluid fronts (interfaces) as a degree of freedom in the computation.7,8 The primary limitations of
these methods are the computational burden associated
with complications that arise from the close approach or
intersection of frontal contours.
Although current streamline technology uses many of
the concepts from the past, it has some new elements. We
can now conduct simulations in 3D heterogeneous media.
This has been greatly facilitated by the introduction of the
streamline time-of-flight concept that has eliminated the
need to keep track explicitly of the streamtube geometry.9,10 The time of flight is simply the travel time of a neutral tracer along streamlines. A key underlying concept in
streamline simulation is decoupling the effects of geologic
heterogeneity from transport (saturation) calculations.
This decoupling is accomplished by use of the streamline
time of flight as a coordinate variable.9 The impact of geologic heterogeneity is embedded in the streamline time of
flight. Furthermore, in the time-of-flight coordinate, the
multidimensional saturation equations are reduced to a
series of 1D calculations along streamlines, which greatly
facilitates saturation computations because they are now
decoupled from the underlying geologic grid. Currently,
such calculations are sufficiently general to model timevarying velocity fields, compressible flow, gravity, and
nonuniform conditions such as those arising from infill
drilling and pattern conversions.11-14 Ref. 15, a review
paper, provides a comprehensive list of references on
streamline simulation.
Method
Streamline simulators approximate 3D fluid-flow calculations by a sum of 1D solutions along streamlines. The
choice of streamline directions for the 1D calculations
makes the approach extremely effective for modeling convection-dominated flows in the reservoir. This is typically
the case when heterogeneity is the predominant factor governing flow behavior.

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(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

(f)

(g)
Fig. 1Stepwise illustration of streamline simulation:
(a) permeability field, (b) streamlines, (c) time of flight,
(d) water saturation at 0.35 pore volumes injected (PVI),
(e) streamline updating after infill drilling, (f) revised
time of flight, and (g) water saturation at 0.45 PVI.

A key underlying concept in streamline simulation is


isolation of the effects of geologic heterogeneity from the
physics of flow calculations. Mathematically, this is accomplished by use of the streamline time of flight as a coordinate variable. We move to a coordinate system where all
streamlines are straight lines and distance is replaced by
the time of flight. The impact of heterogeneity is embedded in the time of flight and trajectory of the streamlines.
The physical-process calculations are reduced to 1D solutions along streamlines. The streamlines generally are
distributed in space with higher resolution than the underlying spatial grid, thus providing excellent transverse reso-

lution. Saturation calculations along streamlines are


decoupled from the underlying grid and can be carried out
with little or no intrinsic timestep limitations.
Streamline simulation involves the following basic steps
(illustrated in Fig. 1).
1. Trace the streamlines on the basis of a velocity field,
typically derived numerically with finite-difference or
finite-element methods. Figs. 1a and 1b illustrate this for a
heterogeneous five-spot pattern. Note that streamlines
tend to cluster along the high-permeability streaks, providing higher resolution along preferential flow paths.
2. Compute particle travel time or time of flight along
the streamlines. Fig. 1c shows contours of travel time or
time of flight along the streamlines shown in Fig. 1b. The
time-of-flight contours or isochrones correspond to tracer
fronts in the reservoir. The time-of-flight coordinate provides a quantitative form of flow visualization that can
have a variety of applications in reservoir characterization/management (discussed in the next section).
3. Solve the transport equations (saturation and concentration) along the streamlines. The transport calculations
are performed in the time-of-flight coordinate, effectively
decoupling heterogeneity effects and significantly simplifying calculations (Fig. 1d).
4. Periodically update the streamlines to account for
mobility effects or changing field conditions. Fig. 1e illustrates this for a pattern conversion from a five-spot to a
nine-spot pattern. Once the streamlines are regenerated,
recompute the time of flight along the new streamlines as
shown in Fig. 1f. Finally, saturation calculations are
resumed with the updated time of flight (Fig. 1g). A critical step here is the mapping of information from the old
streamlines to the new streamlines. This can be a potential
source of error during streamline simulation.
The computational advantage of the streamline methods
can be attributed to four principal reasons: (1) streamlines
may need to be updated only infrequently; (2) the transport equations along streamlines often can be solved analytically; (3) the 1D numerical solutions along streamlines
are not constrained by the underlying geologic grid-stability criterion, thus allowing for larger timesteps; and (4) for
displacements dominated by heterogeneity, the computation time often scales nearly linearly with the number of
gridblocks, making it the preferred method for fine-scale
geologic simulations. Furthermore, the self-similarity of
the solution along streamlines may allow us to compute
the solution only once and map it to the time of interest.
Other advantages are subgrid resolution and reduced
numerical artifacts, such as artificial diffusion and grid orientation effects, because the streamline grid used to solve
the transport equations is effectively decoupled from the
underlying static grid.
Applications
The speed and versatility of the streamline approach have
led to a wide variety of applications during recent years.
In this section, we briefly review some of these applications, focusing mainly on those that are sufficiently
mature for practical applications with todays technology.
For illustration purposes, we use a multipattern example
as shown in Fig. 2. The well configuration corresponds to
Secs. 326 and 327 in the North Robertson Unit, a low-permeability carbonate reservoir in west Texas. There are 15
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DECEMBER 2000

(a)

Fig. 3Streamline time of flight, swept volume at 2.5


PVI from time-of-flight connectivity and sweep-efficiency calculations.

(b)

Fig. 2(a) Well configuration and (b) a realization of


permeability distribution from Secs. 326 and 327, North
Robertson Unit, west Texas.

injectors and 27 producers. The permeability field was


generated from well-log data from 30 wells with geostatistical methods.

ment by providing important information, such as injector/


producer relationships and allocation factors for injectors.
This information comes very naturally from streamline
models but not from conventional numerical simulators.
Fig. 4, where the streamlines depict the injector/producer
relationships in different colors, illustrates this. Because
each streamline is associated with a flow rate, we can now
easily compute allocation factors for the injectors (i.e., what
fraction of the injected fluid is going to which producers).

Swept-Volume Calculations. The streamline approach provides us with a


unique advantage in computing swept volume and
swept areas under the most
general conditions. This is
a direct consequence of the
time-of-flight formulation.
The streamline time of
flight reflects fluid-front
propagation at various
times. For a given time, the
connectivity (volume below the threshold) in the
streamline time of flight
provides a direct measure
of volumetric sweep for
arbitrary heterogeneity and
well configuration (Fig. 3).
Such information can be
useful in reservoir development strategies, such as
infill drilling and pattern
conversion.
Rate Allocation and
Pattern Balancing. The
streamline approach can
aid in reservoir manage-

Fig. 4Assigning well allocation factors using streamline simulation.

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Fig. 5Comparison of streamline vs. numerical simulation for waterflooding: water saturation at 2.5 PVI and
recovery history.

This information can be useful in pattern balancing and


flood-front management.
Modeling Tracer Flow and Waterflooding. Streamline
methods have been widely used in the past for modeling
and interpretation of tracer tests in the reservoir. Such tracer tests typically involve injection of a finite slug of radioactive tracer. Thus, minimizing numerical dispersion is
essential for inferring heterogeneity on the basis of tracer
tests. Streamline methods can be particularly advantageous
in this regard. Streamline methods have also been used successfully for modeling waterflooding. For example, Fig. 5
compares a waterflood simulation from the streamline
approach with that from a commercial numerical simula-

Fig. 6Multiple realizations of permeability distribution


obtained by geostatistical methods.

tor. Both saturation profiles and recovery histories are in


close agreement. Depending on the application, streamline
methods can achieve a speedup factor of 1 to 1,000 over
conventional finite-difference simulators. The computational advantage of streamline methods tends to decrease in
the presence of strong gravity effects, compressibility, and
rapidly changing field conditions, such as rate changes,
infill drilling, zone isolation, and pattern conversions.
Ranking Geostatistical Models. The speed of streamline
methods makes them ideally suited for ranking high-resolution geostatistical reservoir models. Geostatistical

Fig. 7Streamline-based model ranking to identify bounding cases.

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DECEMBER 2000

nectivity at a given time. Swept volume is expected to correlate with recovery regardless of the displacement
process. In the past, permeability connectivity has often
been used to rank geostatistical models. Permeability connectivity may not be very effective because it accounts
only for heterogeneity. In contrast, time-of-flight connectivity accounts for interaction between heterogeneity and
the imposed flow field. Once the models are ranked, we
can choose appropriate quantiles for detailed analysis,
assessment of uncertainty in reservoir description, and
performance predictions (Fig. 7).
Upgridding and Upscaling. The streamline approach is
suitable for upgridding detailed 3D reservoir descriptions.
By upgridding, we mean selecting a coarse simulation grid
based on an existing fine grid for subsequent upscaling calculations. Streamline-based nonuniform coarsening of
fine-scale descriptions naturally places higher resolution
in regions of fast flow and coarser cells throughout the
bulk of the model. Further, the streamline time of flight
provides a quantitative form of flow visualization that can
have a variety of applications in reservoir management and
reservoir characterization. One such application is validation of different upscaling techniques (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8Validation of upscaling by comparing streamline


times of flight.15

techniques are becoming increasingly commonplace in


reservoir characterization. Such techniques can generate a
large number of fine-scale reservoir models consistent
with a wide variety of data. Each of these models is a plausible description of the reservoir. Fig. 6, which shows
multiple realizations of permeability that are all consistent
with well log data from 30 wells, illustrates this. Streamline methods provide a rapid procedure to rank these
models to identify bounding cases. One approach to ranking can be based on swept volume or time-of-flight con-

(a)

History-Matching/Production-Data Integration. Streamline methods provide a unique advantage for rapid history-matching or production-data integration into high-resolution reservoir models. Integration of production data
into reservoir models typically requires the solution of an
inverse problem. Streamline models have two advantages.
First, the streamline simulator can serve as an efficient
forward model for the inverse problem. Second, streamline models allow rapid computation of the sensitivity of
the production response with respect to reservoir parameters, such as permeability and porosity. Such sensitivities
quantify change in production response because of a small
change in reservoir properties and form an integral part of
automatic history-matching algorithms. Furthermore, we
can exploit an analogy between streamlines and seismic
ray tracing to pose the history-matching problem similar
to geophysical inversion and use efficient techniques from

(b)

Fig. 9Streamline-based production-data integration into reservoir models: matching of (a) breakthrough response
and (b) corresponding permeability field.

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Fig. 10Streamline-based computation of drainage


areas (volumes) during compressible flow.

geophysical inverse theory. With streamline methods, production data integration can be carried out in two steps:
(1) matching first arrivals or breakthrough response at
the wells and (2) matching of amplitudesthat is, the production response at all times. Fig. 9 illustrates arrival-time
matching to reconcile geostatistical models to field production history.
Primary Recovery and Compressible Flow. Streamline
methods can be used to define drainage areas or drainage
volumes associated with wells during primary depletion.
Such drainage volumes can be conveniently defined in
terms of a compressible or diffusive time of flight. A
compressible time of flight is based on the observation that
transient-pressure response propagates at a frontal velocity given by the square root of diffusivity. Fig. 10 shows
the drainage area at various times associated with a single
well producing from a heterogeneous medium. For comparison purposes, the figure also shows the commonly
used tracer time of flight for this case. As expected, pressure fronts propagate several orders of magnitude faster
than the tracer fronts.
Solvent Flooding and Compositional Simulation.
Streamline-based techniques have been used to model solvent flooding and various unstable displacements at the
field scale. Most of these techniques rely on analytic or
numerical solution of multicomponent displacement
processes along streamlines. Excellent agreement with
conventional numerical simulators has been demonstrated
with significant speedup in computation. Streamlinebased fully compositional simulation is receiving increasing interest; however, field-scale application has been limited to date.
Discussion
The efficiency of the current generation of streamline simulators is based on their 1D, large-timestep, implicit-pressure/explicit-saturation (IMPES) formulations. In contrast,

standard IMPES simulators have multidimensional flux


constructions and stability-based timestep restrictions.
These timestep restrictions are removed within conventional simulators by use of fully implicit techniques; therefore, a desire for accuracy rather than numerical stability
limits the timestep.
Probably the most severe limitation of streamline models is
the assumption that fluid transport is 1D and along the
streamlines. When this assumption is violated (e.g., waterflood slumping, transverse diffusion in multicomponent
flows, transverse capillarity, and changing well rates),
timestep operator splitting or multiple timesteps are required
to maintain accuracy. Much of the computational advantage
is lost under these conditions. Note that, in a fundamental
sense, streamline methods are nonconservative. For
unsteady-state simulations, the streamlines vary with time,
generating 3D flux transverse to the original flow directions.
A key step is the resampling of saturations from one set of
streamlines to another. This could lead to potential mass-balance problems. Field experience with streamline models has
been rather limited to date. Streamline technology is still
evolving and lacks many of the foundations of conventional
grid-based methods (error estimates and convergence
proofs). Current developments are occurring rapidly, driven
by both research needs and commercial opportunities.
Three-dimensional black-oil simulation is a commercial reality, as are streamline-based gridding techniques.
Concluding Remarks
In this article, we briefly review the current streamline
technology: its foundation (time-of-flight formulation),
historical precedents, current applications, and potential
limitations. We discuss a wide range of applications to
demonstrate the utility of both the streamline simulation
and its underlying formulation. A major strength of
streamline models is their intuitive appeal. Reservoir engineers relate easily to such quantities as swept volumes and
well-allocation factors, which are derived naturally from
streamline models. The evolution of fluid fronts and their
interaction with heterogeneity can be visualized easily and
quantitatively by use of the streamline time of flight. All
these lead to a natural means for dynamic reservoir characterization, pattern balancing, and flood-front management. It is important to emphasize that streamline models
are not a substitute for conventional grid-based simulators.
Currently, the speed and versatility of these models make
them ideally suited for bridging the gap between geologic
modeling and flow simulation.
JPT
Acknowledgments
We thank M.K. Chaudhury, a graduate student at Texas
A&M, for his contribution in preparing this manuscript
and J.W. Jennings, Bureau of Economic Geology (Austin),
for his comments. Several meaningful discussions on the
topic with M.J. King of BP are gratefully acknowledged.
References
11. Muscat, M.: Flow of Homogeneous Fluids, Intl. Human
Resources Development Corp., Boston, Massachusetts (1982).
12. LeBlanc, J.L. and Caudle, B.H.: A Streamline Model for Secondary Recovery, SPEJ (March 1971) 7.
13. Martin, J.C. and Wegner, R.E.: Numerical Solution of Multiphase Two-Dimensional Incompressible Flow Using
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DECEMBER 2000

Streamtube Relationships, SPEJ (October 1979) 313; Trans.,


AIME, 267.
14. Emanuel, A.S. et al.: Reservoir Performance Prediction
Methods Based on Fractal Geostatistics, SPERE (August
1989) 311; Trans., AIME, 287.
15. Hewett, T. and Behrens, R.: Scaling Laws in Reservoir Simulation and Their Use in a Hybrid Finite Difference/Streamtube
Approach to Simulating the Effects of Permeability Heterogeneity, Reservoir Characterization II, L. Lake and H.B. Carroll (eds.), Academic Press Inc., London (1991) 402.
16. Schafer-Perini, A.L. and Wilson, J.L.: Efficient and Accurate
Front Tracking for Two-Dimensional Groundwater Flow
Models, Water Resources Research (1991) 27, No. 7, 1471.
17. Glimm, J. et al.: Front Tracking for Petroleum Reservoir Simulation, paper SPE 12238 presented at the 1983 SPE Reservoir Simulation Symposium, San Francisco, 1518 November.
18. Bratvedt, F. et al.: A New Front Tracking Method for Reservoir Simulation, SPERE (February 1992) 107.
19. Datta-Gupta A. and King M.J.: A Semianalytic Approach to
Tracer Flow Modeling in Heterogeneous Permeable Media,
Advances in Water Resources (1995) 18, No. 1, 9.
10. Pollock, D.W., Semianalytical Computation of Pathlines
for Finite-Difference Models, Groundwater (1988) 26, No.
6, 743.
11. Batycky, R.P., Blunt, M.J., and Thiele, M.R., A 3D Field-Scale
Streamline-Based Reservoir Simulator, SPERE (November
1997) 246.

12. Crane, M. and Blunt, M.J.: Streamline-based Simulation of


Solute Transport, Water Resources Research (1999) 35, No.
10, 306.
13. Bratvedt, F., Gimse, T., and Tegnander, C.: Streamline Computations for Porous Media Flow Including Gravity, Transport in Porous Media (1996) 25, No. 1, 63.
14. Kulkarni, K.N., Datta-Gupta, A., and Vasco, D.W.: A Streamline Approach to Integrating Transient Pressure Data Into
High-Resolution Reservoir Models, paper SPE 65120 presented at the 2000 SPE European Petroleum Conference,
Paris, 2425 October.
15. King, M.J. and Datta-Gupta, A.: Streamline Simulation: A
Current Perspective, In Situ (1998) 22, No. 1, 91.
Akhil Datta-Gupta is an associate professor of petroleum
engineering at Texas A&M U. in College Station, Texas. e-mail:
datta-gupta@spindletop.tamu.edu. He previously was at BP
Exploration/Research and Lawrence Berkeley Natl. Laboratory.
His research interests include reservoir characterization and
simulation and environmental remediation. He holds a BS
degree from the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, and MS and
PhD degrees from the U. of Texas, Austin, all in petroleum engineering. The recipient of the 1992 AIME Rossiter W. Raymond
Award and a 2000 Cedric K. Ferguson Certificate, Datta-Gupta
is a 19992000 Distinguished Lecturer and member of the Engineering Professionalism Committee, has been a member of the
Editorial Review Committee since 1995, and was a 199697
member of the Workforce Supply and Demand Committee.

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Discussion and Reply


Discussion of Streamline Simulation: A Technology Update
M.R. Thiele, SPE, and R.P. Batycky, SPE, StreamSim Technologies Inc.

Streamline Simulation: A Technology


Update1 highlights a powerful new
development in reservoir simulation
technology. While the article gives a
useful overview, it does not convey
important considerations relevant in
the discussion of the state of the art of
this new technology.
Success of Streamline Simulation
The resurgence and success of streamline-based reservoir simulation over
the last 5 years is a result of streamline-based simulators now being
able to solve real field problems.
Three main factors have contributed
to this resurgence.
1. The extension of the method to
truly 3D systems.2-4
2. Periodic updating of the streamlines to capture nonlinear flow effects
due to nonunit mobility ratio displacements and changing well conditions.3,4
3. The ability to include multiphase gravity effects through operator
splitting.5
The time-of-flight (TOF) formalism
does contribute in part to Item 1 by
allowing 3D conservation equations
to be recast along each streamline, but
it is only one component to the overarching, central themes of Items 1
through 3.
Swept Pore Volumes and
Ranking
While streamlines do allow for rapid
calculations of swept volumes on the
basis of TOF, this measure is based on
a single set of streamlines (usually the
first). Use of such ranking criteria is
correct only in the case of simple fixed
streamlines with fixed well conditions
(linear flow); trying to infer recoveries
regardless of displacement process
as implied in the articlewould in
most cases lead to wrong forecasts. As
the flow becomes more nonlinear, and
more frequent updates of the stream(SPE 71204)

lines are required for proper modeling, the rank preservation of sweptpore-volume calculation from the first
set of streamlines necessarily becomes
a poor approximation of the recovery
behavior of the system. This point is
demonstrated by progressively allowing more physics (gravity and mobility) to affect the recovery at breakthrough for even a system as simple as
a 3D quarter-five spot as shown in
Fig. 1. The ranking of swept volume
correlates very well with breakthrough recoveries determined by use
of fixed streamlines (Fig. 1a), but progressively degrades as mobility and
gravity affect the recovery responses.
Fig. 1b is a ranking of recovery for a
waterflood, and Fig. 1c is a ranking
for a first-contact miscible (FCM)
flood. Including additional effects,
such as well rate changes and the
desire to predict ultimate recovery,
will necessarily invalidate any ranking
based on swept volume by use of TOF.
Unfortunately in screenings of real
field models, it is almost always necessary to include mobility, gravity, and
changing well conditions to capture
the true range of recovery variability.
History-Matching/ProductionData Integration
Streamline methods do provide a
unique approach to the historymatching problem. As noted, streamlines allow for fast forward simulations of each new flow model, thereby
allowing a larger parameter space to
be investigated or shorter turnaround
times. But the use of sensitivity coefficients as an integral part of automatic
history matching has been shown
only in the context of fixed streamline
problems with no gravity (linear
systems).6,7 Not mentioned is the
more promising assisted history
matching (AHM) method based on
streamlines,8 which has been used
with great success in many recently
published field cases.9-11 The method
exploits the ability of streamlines to

define average drainage zones


attached to individual wells or well
groups that then can be manipulated
to yield excellent matches. Because
AHM does not solve an inverse problem, it is perfectly suited to cases
where streamlines are predominantly
used: injection/production displacements on large geomodels with
many wells.
Compressible Flow
The introduction of a diffusive TOF
allows determination of the radius of
investigation of a pressure pulse, but it
is not an extension of the streamline
method to compressible flow because
it does not address mass transport
along streamlines. Introducing a diffusive TOF will not give production
profiles for modeling primary production problems with solution gas, field
cases where voidage is far from 1.0, or
cases where fluid properties are a
function of pressure. The difficulty in
solving compressible systems by use
of streamlines lies in the need to
account for both pressure and saturation along streamlines and the coupling of these variables through time.
Commercial streamline codes exist
that model the compressible transport
along streamlines; however, many of
the speed advantages associated with
modeling incompressible systems
with streamlines diminish because of
the increased dependence on pressure
JPT
that must be honored.
References
11. Datta-Gupta, A.: Streamline Simulation: A Technology Update, JPT
(December 2000) 68.
12. Pollock, D.W., Semianalytical Computation of Pathlines for Finite-Difference Models, Groundwater (1988) 26,
No. 6, 743.
13. Thiele, M.R., Batycky, R.P., Blunt, M.J.,
and Orr, F.M. Jr.: Simulating Flow in
Heterogeneous Media Using Streamtubes and Streamlines, SPERE (1996)
10, No. 1, 5.

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Swept Volume at Breakthrough, %

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30

1
1

15

30 1
15
30 1
Recovery at Breakthrough, %

15

Fig. 1Rank comparison of 30 realizations for a quarter five spot.

14. Batycky, R.P., Blunt, M.J., and Thiele,


M.R., A 3D Field-Scale StreamlineBased Reservoir Simulator, SPERE
(1997) 11, No. 4, 246.
15. Bratvedt, F., Gimse, T., and Tegnander,
C.: Streamline Computations for
Porous Media Flow Including Gravity, Transport in Porous Media (1996)
25, No. 1, 63.
16. Vasco, D.W., Yoon, S., and DattaGupta, A.: Integrating Dynamic Data
Into High-Resolution Reservoir Mod-

els Using Streamline-Based Analytical


Sensitivity Coefficients, SPEJ (1999)
4, No. 4, 389.
17. Wen, X.-H., Deutsch, C.V., and Cullick, A.S.: Integrating Pressure and
Fractional Flow Data in Reservoir
Modeling With a Fast StreamlineBased Inverse Method, paper SPE
48971, presented at the 1998 ATCE,
New Orleans, 2730 September.
18. Emanuel, A. and Milliken, W.J.: History Matching Finite-Difference Mod-

11. els with 3D Streamlines, paper SPE 49000


presented at the 1998
ATCE, New Orleans,
2730 September.
19. M i l l i k e n , W. J . ,
Emanuel, A.S., and
Chakravarty, A.: Applications of 3D
Streamline Simulation
to Assisted History
Matching, paper SPE
30
63155 presented at the
2000 ATCE, Dallas,
14 October.
10. Grinestaff, G.H., and
Caffery, D.J.: Water11. flood Management: A Case Study of
the Northwest Fault Block Area of
Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Using Streamline Simulation and Traditional Waterflood Analysis, paper SPE 63152
in Proc. of the 2000 ATCE, Dallas
(October).
11. Lolomari, T. et al.: The Use of Streamline Simulation in Reservoir Management: Methodology and Case Studies, paper SPE 63157 in Proc. of the
2000 ATCE, Dallas (October).

Reply to Streamline Simulation: A Technology Update


Akhil Datta-Gupta, SPE, Texas A&M U.

Much of the discussion by Mr. Thiele


and Mr. Batycky reflect their personal
views on what are the overarching,
central themes and what is promising in streamline simulation. I will
not comment on these. I will briefly
respond to the points that relate to
the paper.
General
Streamline technology is not new. Nor
is it appropriate for solving real field
problems under all conditions. In
fact, the two situations emphasized in
the discussion (i.e., gravity dominated
flow and frequently changing field
conditions) are situations when
streamline models start to lose computational advantage over conventional finite-difference models. The
purpose of the paper was to highlight
situations where streamline models
offer maximum potential; thereby
(SPE 71764)

facilitating judicious rather than


indiscriminate use of the technology.
Swept Pore Volumes and
Ranking
Nowhere in the paper is it indicated
that the swept volume should be calculated using a single fixed set of
streamlines. In fact, for changing
field conditions, swept volumes
should be calculated incrementally
during pressure updates. This discussion is based on a wrong premise and
the results presented at least partly
reflect the erroneous sweep calculations. The quantile-preserving property of any ranking scheme will be
affected if important physical processes are carelessly ignored.
History-Matching/ProductionData Integration
There seems to be confusion regarding linear systems because the
papers referred to in the discussion

actually deal with nonlinear inverse


problems. Also, it is implied that the
streamline-based sensitivity coefficients may not apply when streamlines are updated because of changing
field conditions. This is certainly not
the case.
Compressible Flow
As discussed in the paper, the diffusive time of flight (TOF) can be used
to define drainage radius during primary depletion for arbitrary heterogeneous media. In turn, the drainage
radius can be related to cumulative
production.1 The statement diffusive
TOF will not give production profiles
for modeling primary production is
inaccurate and unsubstantiated. JPT
Reference
1. Johnson, P.W.: The Relationship
Between Radius of Drainage and Cumulative Production, SPEFE, March 1988,
267.

27
MAY 2001