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ResInsight - Increasing Insight in Oil Reservoirs

Published by Ceetron

In 2011 Statoil was ranked the 7th most innovative company in the world.  As a result of its focus on innovation, this Norwegian company has achieved the industry's highest oil recovery rate from existing oil and gas fields. At Statoil's research centre in Trondheim, one of the main objectives of research is to further increase recovery rates, which requires faster and better simulation and visualization tools.

One year ago, Statoil initiated a research project in collaboration with Ceetron to develop new software for visualization of geological data. The objective of the project was to surpass existing visualization software in terms of efficiency and usability. Ceetron has extensive experience and expertise in developing software and solutions for 3D visualization of simulation results. Version 1.0 of the new software, called ResInsight, is now approaching its final form. ResInsight is already faster at processing large amounts of data from reservoir simulations, and visualizes data with more accuracy.

Reservoir engineers need full control of every cell in the 3D model. The amount of oil, gas and water each cell contains, together with the cell's throughput capacity, permeability and porosity, show users how oil is transported through the geological layers over time.


Screen dump from ResInsight. ResInsight can import and display multiple simulation cases simultaneously. Each simulation case can display results in multiple windows.

Valuable insight

In just one year, Ceetron developed a product with a wide range of brand new functionality. With ResInsight, reservoir engineers have gained the ability to easily visualize such aspects as how a water injector affects the pressure and flow in a reservoir. This option gives reservoir engineers valuable insight into how new well bores should be placed, and to what extent mature wells should be exploited further.

It is always desirable to increase the level of detail when building large 3D models of reservoirs. Previously, the size of models became unmanageable for existing commercial tools. ResInsight makes it possible to visualize flow in the geological layers at a far more detailed level - with a greater degree of property variability.

Under development

The software is still in the research phase, but a functioning prototype means Statoil can already use ResInsight at its research centers. The Rotvoll research center uses the tool to find the key parameters required for optimal reservoir simulation, and to familiarize themselves with the software.

The speed of visualization in ResInsight is also significantly enhanced, due to optimized use of graphics technology. ResInsight uploads large datasets for visualization. These consist of results computed by external simulation programs on the basis of e.g. seismic data. ResInsight's visualization core identifies which cells are relevant, and then creates objects from that information in the form of triangles. These triangle-based 3D models allow the petroleum reservoir to be visualized with several different result sets simultaneously - and with very high performance. Ceetron’s solution means that these processes can be performed on multiple CPU cores simultaneously, an advanced technique known as multithreading. This is essential to increase the software's speed and capacity. 

A range of commercial tools for similar tasks used to be required, which became unwieldy  when engineers wanted to build and simulate large and detailed 3D models. Existing software has been unable to visualize big enough models efficiently in the research field. The photo displays ResInsight’s uncluttered interface

Make the simple simpler, and the complex possible

Although ResInsight in principle is a visualization package for results from reservoir simulations, Ceetron has made an integral connection to calculation software Octave that makes it possible to perform further calculations using industry standard scripting language. This option allows the user to create new parameters and summarize existing parameters in any way required - such as "residual oil" or total productivity for specific zones in the reservoir. The visualization of such derived results is important in order to optimize the location of new wells in the reservoir. Ceetron’s policy for the whole project has been to make the simple simpler, and the complex possible. 

New opportunities

Previously, reservoir engineers could not analyze the numerical values associated with shifts and faults in geological layers, while looking at the rest of the cells in the reservoir model simultaneously. However, using new visualization techniques and by enabling efficient use of the graphics processor, they can now see two types of cell information simultaneously in ResInsight. Faults have a big impact on how the flow of liquid affects the reservoir. The fact that it is now possible to visualize two sets of information simultaneously is completely new to 3D tools and gives the user a far better overall view. 

During the development of ResInsight, Statoil and Ceetron worked using the Scrum method. Scrum is an iterative development methodology with extensive use of prototype development. The Scrum method requires a lot of testing and adjustment, but the work process has proven effective, bringing the product rapidly towards its targeted functionality. In addition, reservoir engineers can test and use the software during development, giving them thorough insight into the software's capabilities at an early stage.