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Ground Water. 2013 Mar;51(2):252-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2012.00972.x. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Pressure buildup and brine migration during CO2 storage in multilayered aquifers.

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Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Carbon dioxide injection into deep saline formations may induce large-scale pressure increases and migration of native fluid. Local high-conductivity features, such as improperly abandoned wells or conductive faults, could act as conduits for focused leakage of brine into shallow groundwater resources. Pressurized brine can also be pushed into overlying/underlying formations because of diffuse leakage through low-permeability aquitards, which occur over large areas and may allow for effective pressure bleed-off in the storage reservoirs. This study presents the application of a recently developed analytical solution for pressure buildup and leakage rates in a multilayered aquifer-aquitard system with focused and diffuse brine leakage. The accuracy of this single-phase analytical solution for estimating far-field flow processes is verified by comparison with a numerical simulation study that considers the details of two-phase flow. We then present several example applications for a hypothetical CO2 injection scenario (without consideration of two-phase flow) to demonstrate that the new solution is an efficient tool for analyzing regional pressure buildup in a multilayered system, as well as for gaining insights into the leakage processes of flow through aquitards, leaky wells, and/or leaky faults. This solution may be particularly useful when a large number of calculations needs to be performed, that is, for uncertainty quantification, for parameter estimation, or for the optimization of pressure-management schemes.

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