Many diverse challenges – political, economic, legal and technical – face the continued development and deployment of geological storage of anthropogenic CO2. Among the technical challenges will be the satisfactory proof of storage site security and efficacy. Evidence from many past geotechnical projects has shown the investigations and analyses that are required to demonstrate safe and satisfactory performance will be site specific. This will hold for the geomechanical assessment of saline aquifer storage site integrity where, compared to depleted hydrocarbon fields, there will be no previous pressure response history or rock property characterization data available.

The work presented was carried out as part of a project investigating the improvement in levels of confidence in all aspects of saline aquifer site selection and characterization that could be expected with increasing data availability and in-depth analysis. Attention focused on the geomechanical modelling and the rock mechanics data used to populate models of two storage sites in geological settings analogous to those where CO2 storage might be considered. Coupled geomechanical models were developed from reservoir simulation models initially incorporating generic rock mechanical properties and then laboratory-derived site-specific properties. The models were run in various configurations to investigate the effect of changing the rock mechanical properties on the geomechanical response of the storage systems.

Modelling results showed that the pressure response at one site due to low injectivity caused significant potential for fault reactivation. Increasing the number of injection wells, thereby reducing the individual rates needed to deliver the target capacity, reduced the injection pressures and ameliorated, but did not eliminate, this adverse response.

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