KAUST Athenaeum on Multiscale Imaging of Large Rock Volumes - hosted by Prof. Tad Patzek

KAUST Athenaeum on Multiscale Imaging of Large Rock Volumes

The purpose of this Athenaeum is to develop lucid pictures of large systems in earth subsurface that are based not only on the default black-and-white reductionist approach proposed by Descartes, but also incorporate order, organization and relationships in these systems.  Only then we can paint the more holistic and colorful pictures of the complex multiscale oil and gas reservoirs, using the scientific approach proposed by Leo nardo da Vinci two centuries earlier and largely forgotten in earth sciences outside of geology.

The Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center (ANPERC) and the Energy Geosystems Group (EGG) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) hosts a select group of leading academic and industry researchers to work in multidisciplinary teams to develop the rudimentary dictionaries that will help in translating into one another the mutually impenetrable languages of geology, geophysics, petrophysics, reservoir engineering, and drilling. To have such dictionaries in hands of our teams is more important than ever, because today we must work across disciplines to find solutions to current complex field problems, and – more importantly- implement these solutions in an environmentally friendly and economic way.

Over the three-day period, the group challenged a great number of traditional assumptions about the technical challenges in modeling oil and gas reservoirs across multiple scales.  KAUST Professor Martin Mai presented on the topic of “Real-time Reservoir Modeling and Structural Imaging” with Dario Baturan, the Director of Technical Operations for the Oil and Gas Division of Nanometrics, a Canadian company with whom Mai has collaborated on research into ambient noise seismology and imaging temporal changes in Earth structure on various space-time scales. UT Austin Physics Professor Michael Marder also made a well-received talk on “Lessons from Physics on Transport Across Many Scales,” arguing that the relatively simple approach to “localization” by physicists in the 1950s-70s may present new frameworks for approaching multiscale transport problems confronting reservoir engineering research.  In his comments about the variables in modeling reservoirs across scales, Marder likened the challenge to meeting the expectations for a special birthday celebration:  “You can get the cake, the presents, the balloons and everything else right, but if you forget the flowers the whole day is a complete failure!”

Among these highlights was the keynote dinner lecture, presented by Dr. Ali Dogru.  Dr. Dogru, who leads Reservoir Simulation research within EXPEC-ARC and is a Saudi Aramco Fellow, shared new information about TeraPowers, the next-generation reservoir simulation model that will carry the company’s modeling efforts deep into the 21st century.  In his talk he indicated that partnering with KAUST’s Extreme Computing Research Center and its unique computational resources, such as the Shaheen II machine, provides great promise and new opportunities for the company and the industry.  “We are taking the grid size down significantly,” he said, referring to the shrinking area of reservoir rock that can be simulated for its future production characteristics.  He expressed great excitement about the capabilities of KAUST with both the ECRC and ANPERC conducting strong research. Professor Clay Radke of Berkeley weaved a fascinating story on oil and water wettability at pore scale and received a great deal of attention from the participants.

The event is organized by Professor Tadeusz W. Patzek and the KAUST

Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center with financial support from the KAUST Office of Sponsored Research and the KAUST Industry Collaboration Program, Industry Engagement Office .