Sequestration of large amounts of CO2 within deep underground reservoirs has been proposed as a potential approach for reducing atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases. A CO2 sequestration project should address the associated environmental and safety issues and, in this respect, the importance of geomechanics has recently been widely recognized. Geomechanics is even more important when fluid injection is planned in faulted reservoirs. How much CO2 can be safely injected into multi-compartment reservoirs? Are geomechanical constraints more restrictive than flow-dynamic constraints? These and other questions are addressed in the present study using a three-dimensional finite element-interface element geomechanical model. We simulate the possible mechanical failure in both the injected formation and the caprock, the fault/thrust reactivation, and the ground surface displacement in a faulted reservoir of the offshore northern Italy, where seismic surveys provided an accurate characterization of the faulted geological structure. Based on reliable petrophysical/geomechanical properties from well logs and pore overpressure as predicted by a fluid-dynamic model, the results show that the injection of 1 × 106 ton/a of CO2 may be performed over a few years only. Thereafter, part of the injected formation fails by shear stress. A number of parametric scenarios are investigated to address the major uncertainties on the geomechanical response to CO2 injection. The modeling outcome suggests that shear failure and faults/thrusts reactivation can occur much before attaining the hydraulic fracturing pressure, hence representing two major constraints for a safe and permanent containment.
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