Trondheim Section

Dr. Xiao-Hui Wu explains goal-driven vs. data-driven reservoir modeling

By Bahador Najafiazar posted Feb 16,2016 06:57 AM


SPE Trondheim held a Distinguished Lecture event on Monday, 15 February 2016, at the department of petroleum engineering and applied geophysis, NTNU. Dr. Xiao-Hui Wu, Senior Engineering Associate at ExxonMobile Upstream Research Company, gave a presentation titled "How to Predict Reservoir Performance with Subsurface Uncertainty at Multiple Scales".

Dr. Wu indicated subsurface uncertainty as one of the main challenges in using reservoir models to predict field performance for development and depletion planning purposes. He explained: "The importance of reliable characterization of subsurface uncertainty and its impact on reservoir performance predictions is increasingly recognized as essential to robust decision making in the upstream industry, which is especially true for large projects in complex geologic settings. However, despite recent advances in reservoir modeling and simulation, reliable quantification of the impact of subsurface uncertainty remains difficult in practice. Many factors lead to this state of affair; technically, a fundamental difficulty is that reservoir heterogeneity at multiple scales may have strong effect on fluid flows."

Dr. Wu's lecture included an analysis of the challenge and possible resolutions. "Indeed, relying on computing power alone may not address the challenge." said Dr. Wu. "Instead, we must look at reservoir modeling and performance prediction holistically, from modeling objectives to appropriate techniques of incorporating reservoir heterogeneity into the models."

He presented a goal-driven and data-driven approach for reservoir modeling with the theoretical reasoning and numerical evidence behind them, including real field examples. He showed that the proposed approach is driven by the practical limitations inherent in numerical approximations of Darcy flow equations as well as how fluid flow responds to reservoir heterogeneity. "The one idea that participants of this lecture should take away is that appropriate parameterization of multi-scale reservoir heterogeneity, that is tailored to the business questions at hand and available data, is essential for addressing the challenge of subsurface uncertainty" said Dr. Wu. 

Xiao-Hui Wu joined ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company in 1997. His research experience covers geologic modeling, unstructured gridding, upscaling, reduced order modeling, and uncertainty quantification. He is a Senior Earth Modeling Advisor in the Computational Science Function. Xiao-Hui received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and worked as a postdoc in Applied Mathematics at Caltech before joining Exxon Mobil. He is a member of SPE and SIAM, a technical editor/reviewer for the SPE Journal, Journal of Computational Physics, and Multiscale Modeling and Simulation. He served on program committees of several conferences, including the Reservoir Simulation Symposium.




  • Distinguished Lecturer
  • NTNU
  • Reservoir Description & Dynamics
  • reservoir modeling