We present a robust control system and methodology for physics-informed artificial intelligence (PAI) used to optimize and improve oil recovery, demonstrated in the Yates Field operated by the Kinder Morgan CO2 company.

The system consists of a robust control system (referred to as Dynamic Feedback Loop, or DFL) equipped with novel hydrocarbon sensors that measure oil concentration and other parameters continuously and simultaneously on a set of producing wells. The goal of this system is to optimize operational parameters (e.g. choke valve settings, injection rates) to reach specific target metrics of production (e.g. maximizing produced oil while minimizing produced gas).

The key element of our approach is the use of a multi-layer artificial neural network (deep neural network, or DNN, to be specific) that extracts physics-based parameters from the real-time measurements and predicts relevant parameters of the DFL control system. DNNs are prone to overfitting in training, making them ineffective in unfamiliar or challenging situations outside the training dataset.

To overcome this problem, we have developed a physics-informed robust neural network technique, where the reservoir physics and sensor data are used to train DNN representations of the key physical parameters. Typically, only simplified physical models are developed using available geostatic or historical production data. Also, due to the dynamic nature of these systems, the accuracy of the models often changes over time. To improve predictive capability of the model, we combine the DNN with the system-theoretic robust control concepts based on physics with a model uncertainty formulation. The concept was first validated using a combination of simulations, isolated sensor data and analyses based on sets of historic production data.

A study using historic production data on Kinder Morgan’s Yates Field Unit (YFU) 4045 Pilot (3 producing wells) indicates application of the DFL system results in an increase in cumulative production of up to 35% per year, compared to what is obtained through a traditional (fixed-point) control system. Currently, the DFL is being field-tested on a different set of wells in the Yates Field, instrumented with the novel hydrocarbon sensors that generate continuous and simultaneous production data.

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