CO₂ geological sequestration in heterogeneous binary media: Effects of geological and operational conditions

Reza Ershadnia, Corey D. Wallace, Mohamad Reza Soltanian

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Realistic representation of subsurface heterogeneity is essential to better understand and effectively predict the migration and trapping patterns of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) during geological carbon sequestration (GCS). Many candidate aquifers for GCS have sedimentary architectures which reflect fluvial deposition, where coarser-grained facies with higher-permeability (e.g., sandstone) are juxtaposed within finer-grained facies with lower-permeability (e.g., shale). Because the subsurface is difficult to access and sample, geostatistical methods are often used to model the spatial distribution of geological facies across different scales. We use a transition-probability based approach to simulate heterogeneous systems with binary facies distributions and the resulting petrophysical properties at the field scale. The approach produces heterogeneity fields which honor observable and physical facies attributes (e.g., volumetric proportions, mean lengths, and juxtapositional tendencies). Further, we use the associated facies-dependent properties for both relative permeability and capillary pressure relations and their hysteretic behavior. Heterogeneous facies models are used to investigate the sensitivity of different trapping mechanisms (i.e., dissolution, residual trapping) as well as CO2 plume dynamics to variability in (1) the spatial organization and connectivity of sedimentary facies types; (2) aquifer temperature; (3) CO2 injection period; (4) perforation length; and (5) the level of impurity, represented here as methane (CH4 ) present in injected CO2 streams. Model results show that the magnitudes of residual and solubility trapping are reduced by increasing the percentage and degree of connectivity of high-permeability facies. An increase in aquifer temperature leads to a decrease in residual trapping and an increase in solubility trapping. Results also reveal that for a given volume of injected CO2 , shorter injection times yield higher total amounts of trapped CO2 . Similarly, wells perforated over a shorter thickness of the aquifer contribute to an increase in both residual and solubility trapping. We also find that increased CH4 concentrations in the injected CO2 streams decrease residual trapping while increasing solubility trapping. This effect is more pronounced at shallower depths, where the pressure and temperature of the aquifer are lower.

Cited as: Ershadnia, R., Wallace, C.D., Soltanian, M.R. CO2 geological sequestration in heterogeneous binary media: Effects of geological and operational conditions. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2020, 4(4): 392-405, doi: 10.46690/ager.2020.04.05


Binary media, aquifer heterogeneity, transition-probability, facies connectivity, perforation length, impurity in CO2 stream, injection period, aquifer temperature

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