Reservoir Geomechanics Helps Improve CO2 Storage Performance and Risk Assessment

Durucan, S. (Imperial College London) | Shi, J.-Q. (Imperial College London) | de La Torre Guzman, J. (Imperial College London) | Korre, A. (Imperial College London)


ABSTRACT: A coupled flow-geomechanical modelling study has been carried out in an effort to match the flowing bottomhole pressures and InSAR surface uplift time series at the three injection wells over the seven years CO2 injection period at In Salah. The surface deformation data covers the entire period of monitoring from July 2003 to January 2012. It is believed that a structural feature controls the dynamic pressure and geomechanical behaviour at both injection wells KB-502 and KB-503, and that CO2 injection has caused tensile opening of pre-existing fractures/faults in the area. This insight was incorporated by introducing a fracture/fault zone with a dynamic transmissibility into the coupled flow-geomechanical model. Using forward coupled flow- geomechancial modelling, both the injection pressure behaviour and the geomechanical response at the ground surface have been largely reproduced. Research findings helped assess the overall performance of the site and potential for the migration of CO2 within the storage complex.


A growing concern that the ongoing increase in atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) is contributing to global climate change has led to a search for technologies to reduce CO2 emissions. For this purpose, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been proposed as a promising technology to reduce CO2 emissions produced by the combustion of fossil fuels (IPCC 2005). The concept of CCS involves capturing CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, compression, transport and injection into a deep geological formation.

Research carried out in association with the four major industrial scale projects Sleipner and Snøhvit in Norway (Eiken et al. 2011, Chadwick et al. 2012, Shi et al. 2013a), In Salah in Algeria (Ringrose et al. 2009) and Weyburn in Canada (White 2009), together with smaller but equally valuable research pilots such as Ketzin in Germany (Liebscher et al. 2013) and Otway in Australia (Jenkins et al. 2012) have improved our understanding of the subsurface processes involved in CO2 storage a great deal and helped develop storage performance and risk assessment methodologies. The experience gained from these projects have shown that fluid behaviour and the geomechanical response of the CO2 storage formation and surrounding structures are some of the critical parameters that will determine the overall system performance. Real sites may contain features, such as non-sealing wells, faults, fracture zones, which may allow CO2 to migrate and leak out of the storage reservoir. Furthermore, increases in reservoir pressure in response to CO2 injection would induce mechanical stresses and deformation in and around the injection reservoir. Moreover, there is also a potential to induce seismicity on nearby faults. If reservoir pressure increase becomes too large, the induced stresses may cause irreversible mechanical changes, creating new fractures or reactivating preexisting ones, compromising the storage integrity of the reservoir.