Fluid flow simulation models of faulted reservoirs normally include faults as grid offset in combination with 2D transmissibility multipliers. This approach tends to oversimplify the way effects caused by the actual 3D architecture of fault zones are handled. By representing faults as 3D rock volumes in reservoir models, presently overlooked structural features may be included and potentially yield a more realistic description of structural heterogeneities. This paper investigates how a volumetric fault zone description, will affect fluid flow in simulation models.

An experimental 3D model grid including a single normal fault, defined as a volumetric grid, was constructed. Subsequently, the fault grid was populated with two conceptual fault deformation products – sand lenses and fault rock – using an object-based stochastic facies modelling technique. In order to evaluate the effect of varying petrophysical properties, fault rock permeability and sand lens permeability were varied deterministically between 0.01 mD and 1 mD and 50 mD and 500 mD, respectively. The impact of fault core architecture was investigated by deterministically varying sand lens fraction and sand lens connectivity. This yielded 24 model configurations, executed in 20 stochastic realizations each. Fluid flow simulation was performed on 480 model realizations.

Simulation results show that the most important parameters influencing fluid flow across the fault were fault rock matrix permeability, and whether or not the sand lenses were connected to the undeformed host rock. Sand lens permeability and sand lens fraction turned out to be less important for fluid flow than fault rock matrix permeability and sand lens connectivity.

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