ABSTRACT

Upward migration of brine because of pressurization resulting from injection is a risk of disposal of water produced with oil and geologic carbon storage. Analysis of the net production in each zone associated with oil production activities in the southern San Joaquin Valley, California, determined that net injection caused by disposal of water produced with oil occurred in zones above the shallowest zone with net production in several oil fields. The zones with net injection are also variously at depths just greater than the shallowest depths for geologic carbon storage or at depths intermediate between more typical geologic carbon storage depths and overlying groundwater with a total dissolved solids concentration appropriate for domestic use. As such, these net injections provide analogs for brine pressurization caused by geologic carbon storage, either in the injection zone around the CO2 plume or in overlying zones caused by vertical leakage of brine or CO2. Hundreds of newspaper articles regarding groundwater contamination in the main newspaper in the southern San Joaquin area collectively reported on effects on groundwater from tens of sources at tens of locations. These effects resulted in the closure of about 100 water supply wells. However, no effects caused by upward migration of brine were reported. Of the shallowest zones with oil production–related activity in each field, the Fruitvale field, Main area, Etchegoin pool had the largest cumulative net injection volume. This pool is also intersected by numerous faults and approximately 900 wells related to oil production, each providing a potential pathway for upward fluid migration. Total dissolved solids and nitrate concentration data are available from greater than 100 water supply wells overlying this pool. Analysis of these data determined there was no significant groundwater quality change likely attributable to upward migration of brine (p < 0.05). It is not known if this is because the application of current underground injection control regulations is effective or because upward migration of brine, which is a dense phase, to groundwater is unlikely. The different engineering and economic implications of these two hypotheses suggest the need for future work to ascertain which is correct under different conditions.

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