Subsurface characterization and geological monitoring of the CO2 injection operation at Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada
James B. Riding, Christopher A. Rochelle, 2009. "Subsurface characterization and geological monitoring of the CO2 injection operation at Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada", Underground Gas Storage: Worldwide Experiences and Future Development in the UK and Europe, D. J. Evans, R. A. Chadwick
Download citation file:
The IEA Weyburn Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Monitoring and Storage Project analysed the effects of a miscible CO2 flood into a Lower Carboniferous carbonate reservoir rock at an onshore Canadian oilfield. Anthropogenic CO2 is being injected as part of a commercial enhanced oil recovery operation. Much of the research performed in Europe as part of an international monitoring project was aimed at analysing the long-term migration pathways of CO2 and the effects of CO2 on the hydrochemical and mineralogical properties of the reservoir rock. The pre-CO2 injection hydrochemical, hydrogeological and petrographical conditions in the reservoir were investigated in order to recognize changes caused by the CO2 flood and to assess the long-term fate of the injected CO2. The Lower Carboniferous (Mississippian) aquifer has a salinity gradient in the Weyburn area, where flows are oriented SW–NE. Hydrogeological modelling indicates that dissolved CO2 would migrate from Weyburn in an ENE direction at a rate of about 0.2 m/annum under the influence of regional groundwater flow. Baseline gas fluxes and CO2 concentrations in groundwater were also investigated. The gas dissolved in the reservoir waters allowed potential transport pathways to be identified. Analysis of reservoir fluids proved that dissolved CO2 and methane (CH4) increased significantly in the injection area between 2002 and 2003. Most of the injected CO2 exists in a supercritical state, lesser amounts are trapped in solution and there is little apparent mineral trapping. The CO2 has already reacted with the reservoir rock sufficiently to mask some of the strontium isotope signature caused by 40 years of water flooding. Experimental studies of CO2–porewater–rock interactions in the Midale Marly Unit indicated slight dissolution of carbonate and silicate minerals, followed by relatively rapid saturation with respect to carbonate minerals. Carbon dioxide flooding experiments on similar rock samples demonstrated that porosity and gas permeability increased significantly through dissolution of calcite and dolomite. Several microseismic events were recorded over a six-month period and these are provisionally interpreted as being related to small fractures formed by injection-driven fluid migration within the reservoir, as well as other oilfield operations. Experimental studies on the overlying and underlying units show similar reaction processes; however secondary gypsum precipitation was also observed. Reaction experiments were conducted with CO2 and borehole cements. The size and tensile strength of the cement blocks were unaffected, however their densities increased. Pre- and post-injection soil gas survey data are consistent with a shallow biological origin for the measured CO2 in soil gases. Isotopic (δ13C) data values are higher than in the injected CO2, and confirm this interpretation. No evidence for leakage of the injected CO2 to ground level has been detected. The long-term safety and performance of CO2 storage was assessed by the construction of a features, events and processes (FEP) database that provides a comprehensive knowledge base for the geological storage of CO2.