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The impact of geological heterogeneity on CO2 storage in brine formations: a case study from the Texas Gulf Coast

By
Susan D. Hovorka
Susan D. Hovorka
1
Bureau of Economic Geology, Box X, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin
,
Austin TX 78713, USA
susan.hovorka@beg.utexas.edu
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Christine Doughty
Christine Doughty
2
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
,
1 Cyclotron Road Mailstop 90-1116 Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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Sally M. Benson
Sally M. Benson
2
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
,
1 Cyclotron Road Mailstop 90-1116 Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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Karsten Pruess
Karsten Pruess
2
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
,
1 Cyclotron Road Mailstop 90-1116 Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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Paul R. Knox
Paul R. Knox
1
Bureau of Economic Geology, Box X, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin
,
Austin TX 78713, USA
susan.hovorka@beg.utexas.edu
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Published:
January 01, 2004

Abstract

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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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide

Shelagh J. Baines
Shelagh J. Baines
BP Exploration and Production Company, Sunbury, UK
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Richard H. Worden
Richard H. Worden
Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
233
ISBN electronic:
9781862394810
Publication date:
January 01, 2004

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