Model To Predict CO2 Leakage Rates Along a Wellbore
- Qing Tao (University of Texas at Austin) | Dean Checkai | Nicolas John Huerta (University of Texas at Austin) | Steven Lawrence Bryant (U. of Texas at Austin)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 19-22 September, Florence, Italy
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2010. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 1.2.2 Geomechanics, 4.6 Natural Gas, 6.5.7 Climate Change, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 5.10.1 CO2 Capture and Sequestration, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 1.2.1 Wellbore integrity, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 5.9.2 Geothermal Resources, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics
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Large-scale geological storage of CO2 is likely to bring CO2 plumes into contact with a large number of existing wellbores. The flux of CO2 along a leaking wellbore requires a model of fluid properties and of transport along the leakage pathway. The leakage pathway in wells that exhibit sustained casing pressure (SCP) is analogous to the rate-limiting part of the pathway in existing wellbores along which CO2 may leak. Thus field observations of SCP can be used to estimate transport properties of a CO2 leakage pathway. We develop a more robust optimization algorithm to get the best data fit in the SCP model. Constraints from well construction geometry and from physical considerations reduce the range of estimated permeability. We then describe a simple CO2 leakage model. The model accounts for variation in CO2 properties along the leakage path and allows the path to terminate in an unconfined (constant pressure) exit. The latter assumption provides a worst-case leakage flux.
Using pathway permeabilities consistent with observations in SCP wells, we obtain a range of CO2 fluxes for various boundary conditions. In leakage pathways corresponding to the slow but nonnegligible buildup of casing pressure, the CO2 fluxes are comparable to naturally occurring background fluxes observed at ground surface. In pathways corresponding to rapid buildup of casing pressure, the fluxes are comparable to measurements at Crystal Geyser (Utah), a natural CO2 seep. Uncertainty in pathway permeability has a first-order effect on uncertainty of CO2 flux. Uncertainty in the length of the pathway has a comparatively minor effect. Increasing the CO2 at the base of the pathway does not dramatically increase the CO2 flux above the purely buoyancy-driven value.
Geologic storage is one of the key technologies to reduce anthropogenic emissions of CO2 (IPCC, 2005). The success of any geologic CO2 sequestration operation depends on our ability to ensure that injected CO2 is properly credited and that assets overlying the storage reservoir remain uncontaminated. To achieve both goals we need to verify that CO2 does not leak out of the target formation at a rate large enough to adversely affect other compartments of economic or environmental value (Oldenburg et al., 2009). A physics-based model for leakage will be a valuable tool for assessing risks associated with a prospective storage project and for analyzing field observations.
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