The impact of geological heterogeneity on CO2 storage in brine formations: a case study from the Texas Gulf Coast
Susan D. Hovorka, Christine Doughty, Sally M. Benson, Karsten Pruess, Paul R. Knox, 2004. "The impact of geological heterogeneity on CO2 storage in brine formations: a case study from the Texas Gulf Coast", Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide, Shelagh J. Baines, Richard H. Worden
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Geological complexities such as variable permeability and structure (folds and faults) exist to a greater or lesser extent in all subsurface environments. In order to identify safe and effective sites in which to inject CO2 for sequestration, it is necessary to predict the effect of these heterogeneities on the short- and long-term distribution of CO2.
Sequestration capacity, the volume fraction of the subsurface available for CO2 storage, can be increased by geological heterogeneity. Numerical models demonstrate that in a homogeneous rock volume, CO2 flowpaths are dominated by buoyancy, bypassing much of the rock volume. Flow through a more heterogeneous rock volume disperses the flow paths, contacting a larger percentage of the rock volume, and thereby increasing sequestration capacity.
Sequestration effectiveness, how much CO2 will be sequestered for how long in how much space, can also be enhanced by heterogeneity. A given volume of CO2 distributed over a larger rock volume may decrease leakage risk by shortening the continuous column of buoyant gas acting on a capillary seal and inhibiting seal failure. However, where structural heterogeneity predominates over stratigraphic heterogeneity, large columns of CO2 may accumulate below a sealing layer, increasing the risk of seal failure and leakage.
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Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main compound identified as affecting the stability of the Earth’s climate. A significant reduction in the volume of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere is a key mechanism for mitigating climate change. Geological storage of CO2, or the injection and long-term stabilization of large volumes of CO2 in the subsurface in saline aquifers, in existing hydrocarbon reservoirs or in unmineable coal seams, is one of the more technologically advanced options available. A number of studies have been carried out and are reported here. They are aimed at understanding the safety, physical and chemical behaviour and long-term fate of CO2 when stored in geological formations. Until efficient, alternative energy options can be developed, geological storage of CO2, the subject of this volume, provides a mechanism to reduce carbon emissions significantly whilst continuing to meet the global demand for energy.