Rock compressibility from microcomputed tomography images: Controls on digital rock simulations
Rock compressibility is a major control of reservoir compaction, yet only limited core measurements are available to constrain estimates. Improved analytical and computational estimates of rock compressibility of reservoir rock can improve forecasts of reservoir production performance and the geomechanical integrity of compacting reservoirs. The fast-evolving digital rock technology can potentially overcome the need for simplification of pores (e. g., ellipsoids) to estimate rock compressibility as the computations are performed on an actual pore-scale image acquired using 3D microcomputed tomography (micro-CT). However, the computed compressibility using a digital image is impacted by numerous factors, including imaging conditions, image segmentation, constituent properties, choice of numerical simulator, rock field of view, how well the grain contacts are resolved in an image, and the treatment of grain-to-grain contacts. We have analyzed these factors and quantify their relative contribution to the rock moduli computed using micro-CT images of six rocks: a Fontainebleau sandstone sample, two Berea sandstone samples, a Castelgate sandstone sample, a grain pack, and a reservoir rock. We find that image-computed rock moduli are considerably stiffer than those inferred using laboratory-measured ultrasonic velocities. This disagreement cannot be solely explained by any one of the many controls when considered in isolation, but it can be ranked by their relative contribution to the overall rock compressibility. Among these factors, the image resolution generally has the largest impact on the quality of image-derived compressibility. For elasticity simulations, the quality of an image resolution is controlled by the ratio of the contact length and image voxel size. Images of poor resolution overestimate contact lengths, resulting in stiffer simulation results.