One of the challenges confronting carbon dioxide capture and sequestration (CCS) in geologic media over extended periods of time is determining the caprock sealing capacity. If the pressure of supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) injected in the repository overcomes the caprock sealing capacity, leaking of scCO2 may enter other porous formations, compromising the storage formation, or even may go back to the atmosphere, and thus the process of sequestration becomes futile.

Carbon dioxide sealing capacity is controlled by two groups of parameters: (1) texture (e.g., the pore-throat size, distribution, geometry, and sorting; median grain size, porosity, degree of bioturbation, specific surface area, preferred orientation of matrix clay minerals, orientation, and aspect of ratio of organic particles) and (2) composition (mineralogical content, proportion of soft, deformable mineral grains to rigid grains, organic matter content, carbonate content, silt content, cementation, ductility, compaction, and ash content). The primary goal of this study was to investigate several parameters listed above and to estimate their respective contributions to sealing capacity to better understand its role in shale and carbonates. To assess the effect of textural and compositional properties on scCO2 maximum retention column height, we collected 30 representative core samples from caprock formations in three counties (Cimarron, Texas, and Beaver) in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The study area was chosen because it hosts three depleted gas fields with a storage capacity of more than 35 million bbl and is situated at a crossroad leading to some significant CO2 stationary sources from North Texas, South Kansas, and northern Oklahoma. We used mercury injection porosimetry, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Sedigraph energy dispersive spectra (EDS), x-ray diffraction (XRD), Brunauer–Emmett–Teller-specific surface area, and total organic carbon (TOC) measurements to assess textural and compositional properties of collected samples.

The range of scCO2 column height for the samples used in this study is between 0.2 and 1358 m (0.66 and 4455 ft). The average scCO2 column height is 351 m (1152 ft). The depth interval approximately 1400 m (4593 ft) could reach relatively high values of scCO2 column height, up to 1200 m (3937 ft). The above-mentioned interval is composed of mainly Cherokee and Morrowan Formations (shale seals).

Principal component analysis (PCA) was carried out to infer the possible relationships between textural and compositional parameters.

Generally, composition of our samples (shales vs. carbonates and sandstones) indicates a relatively stronger control on caprock sealing capacity, although individual mineral makeup of shale samples seems not correlated with scCO2 retention column heights. In the same time, many textural parameters play a significant role in determining the sealing capacity of carbonate caprocks.

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