Free reservoir simulators

EAGE presentation from Primera/Orkahub finds commercial simulators ‘expensive alternative’ to open source cousins.

Speaking at a recent EAGE ‘after work’ online event, Alejandro Primera (Primera Resources and Orkahub Energy) evaluated various open source reservoir modeling solutions. Primera is an open source advocate, OS code underpins much of the web. Facebook, Twitter and Google regularly release code as open source resulting in free, high quality code, particularly in the data science area.

Before embarking on a project, selecting the best open source license is key. The various ‘copy left’, and ‘permissive’ licenses (Primera counted nine different licenses) are evaluated in terms of code disclosure, permitted use and necessary disclaimers. License auditing can be complex.

Sintef’s Matlab reservoir simulation toolbox is a great way to start although a commercial Matlab license is required*. There is an online gallery of examples and two textbooks. MRST includes synthetic test data and real data from Norway’s Norne field. The project recently got funding for further development.

Another Norwegian initiative, the Open Porous Media project also includes many examples and a recently-added tutorial for simulating CO2 storage.

GEOSX from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab is a generic carbon storage application. Primera reports that GEOSX is hard to install and has configured a Docker GEOSX app which he can share.

The Waiwera geothermal simulator from the University of Auckland’s Geothermal Institute proved another tough nut to crack. Primera could not get the parallel thermal simulator to work properly.

All in all, Primera considers commercial simulators as expensive alternatives to their open source cousins. There are some challenges. More benchmarking is needed and extra finance would help these projects. Primera concluded with a presentation of his work on Equinor’s Volve field using Random Forest ML to perform a sensitivity analysis of MRST simulations. More on the many tests of the Volve data here.

Watch the EAGE event here and visit the Orkahub Energy YouTube channel.

* Although as reported in Oil IT Journal, MRST supports the open source Matlab clone Octave, ‘allowing most of the solvers to run without Matlab’.

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