The main objective of constructing and calibrating subsurface flow models is to use them as predictive tools for decision making and resource development management. In their most basic applications, predictive models can be used to compare a set of proposed field development scenarios and decide which one has a superior performance. However, in more complex problems the optimal development scenarios may not be obvious and numerical optimization should be used to identify them. Performance improvement can be accomplished by formulating and solving an optimization problem that consists of a desired measure to optimize (i.e., objective function), various constraints (economic, physical, and field constraints), and the decision variables that can be controlled to improve performance. In realistic subsurface flow models with complex nonlinear constraints and different types of decision variables, such optimization problems are non-trivial to solve. Another major difficulty is the uncertainty in predicting the response of subsurface flow systems to development scenarios, which can pose significant development risks. Our research in this area is devoted to developing methods to solve realistic field development optimization problems. Two main areas of focus in our lab are developing generalized formulations and solutions for field development optimization and stochastic optimization to incorporate geologic uncertainty in field performance optimization. Our current research topics include:
- Efficient fit-for-purpose proxy models for model-predictive control and optimization
- Stochastic field development under uncertain geological models and future operation decisions
- Optimization of subsurface resources recovery and utilization under geomechanical risks
- Generalized field development optimization (joint optimization of several decision variables, e.g., well type, locations, operating controls, and schedule)
The methods we develop contribute toward optimization of subterranean energy and water resources development as well as effective management of geo-environmental resources such as groundwater supply, aquifer contamination cleanup, and geologic CO2 storage.