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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • geologic sequestration;
  • numerical modeling;
  • pressure attenuation;
  • pressure build-up;
  • storage capacity

Abstract

The scale and magnitude of pressure perturbation and brine migration induced by geologic carbon sequestration is discussed assuming a full-scale deployment scenario in which enough CO2 is captured and stored to make relevant contributions to global climate change mitigation. In this scenario, the volumetric rates and cumulative volumes of CO2 injection would be comparable to or higher than those related to existing deep-subsurface injection and extraction activities, such as oil production. Large-scale pressure build-up in response to the injection may limit the dynamic storage capacity of suitable formations, because over-pressurization may fracture the caprock, may drive CO2/brine leakage through localized pathways, and may cause induced seismicity. On the other hand, laterally extensive sedimentary basins may be less affected by such limitations because (i) local pressure effects are moderated by pressure propagation and brine displacement into regions far away from the CO2 storage domain; and (ii) diffuse and/or localized brine migration into overlying and underlying formations allows for pressure bleed-off in the vertical direction. A quick analytical estimate of the extent of pressure build-up induced by industrial-scale CO2 storage projects is presented. Also discussed are pressure perturbation and attenuation effects simulated for two representative sedimentary basins in the USA: the laterally extensive Illinois Basin and the partially compartmentalized southern San Joaquin Basin in California. These studies show that the limiting effect of pressure build-up on dynamic storage capacity is not as significant as suggested by Ehlig-Economides and Economides, who considered closed systems without any attenuation effects. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd