Injection strategies for CO2 storage sites
4th June 2010
Injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into either deep saline aquifers, depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs or deep, un-minable coal seams is a promising option for the geological storage of CO2 in order to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Previous studies and the experience from existing storage and enhanced oil recovery operations have shown that the technology and well design for carbon dioxide injection is well developed (Cooper, 2009). In addition, many studies all over the world have concluded that there is sufficient potential storage capacity in sedimentary basins for storing the global carbon dioxide emissions from industrial point sources (Bradshaw et al., 2007; Bradshaw and Dance, 2005; Li et al., 2005; USDOE, 2007). However, the current portfolio of storage operations does not sufficiently cover different geological environments and, more importantly, there is no experience with injection volumes much larger than 1 Mt CO2/year. At the same time, there are many uncertainties regarding the extent to which potential capacity can be turned into useable storage capacity, particularly when planning to inject large volumes in the order of several megatonnes of carbon dioxide that require multiple injection wells. It is now commonly accepted that, for geological storage to be an effective greenhouse mitigation option, the infrastructure (platforms, wells, pipelines, compressors) for injecting carbon dioxide will have to be at least on the order of magnitude of current petroleum installations. Also, injectivity of geological formations at an adequate distance from industrial point sources may be of lesser quality than has been encountered in existing projects. Reservoir quality information is particularly sparse for deep saline aquifers, resulting in large uncertainties in storage capacity estimations and forecasting of injectivity and sweep efficiency. In most cases, it can be expected that the CO2 injection scheme will have to consist of multiple wells, potentially including wells for monitoring and pressure control. Therefore, it is critical to develop efficient and cost-effective injection strategies that minimize the amount of wells and maximise the injection volume and injectivity.
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