A controlled CO2 release experiment in a fault zone at the in-situ laboratory in Western Australia

Michael, Karsten and Avijegon, Arsham and Ricard, Ludovic and Myers, Matt and Tertyshnikov, Konstantin and Pevzner, Roman and Strand, Julian and Hortle, Allison and Stalker, Linda and Pervukhina, Marina and Harris, Brett and Feitz, Andrew and Pejcic, Bobby and Larcher, Alf and Rachakonda, Praveen and Freifeld, Barry and Woitt, Mark and Langhi, Laurent and Dance, Tess and Myers, Jo and Roberts, Jennifer and Saygin, Erdinc and White, Cameron and Seyyedi, Mojtaba (2020) A controlled CO2 release experiment in a fault zone at the in-situ laboratory in Western Australia. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 99. 103100. ISSN 1750-5836

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    Abstract

    A controlled-release test at the In-Situ Laboratory Project in Western Australia injected 38 tonnes of gaseous CO2 between 336-342 m depth in a fault zone, and the gas was monitored by a wide range of downhole and surface monitoring technologies. Injection of CO2 at this depth fills the gap between shallow release (<25 m) and storage (>600 m) field trials. The main objectives of the controlled-release test were to assess the monitorability of shallow CO2 accumulations, and to investigate the impacts of a fault zone on CO2 migration. CO2 arrival was detected by distributed temperature sensing at the monitoring well (7 m away) after approximately 1.5 days and an injection volume of 5 tonnes. The CO2 plume was detected also by borehole seismic and electric resistivity imaging. The early detection of significantly less than 38 tonnes of CO2 in the shallow subsurface demonstrates rapid and sensitive monitorability of potential leaks in the overburden of a commercial-scale storage project, prior to reaching shallow groundwater, soil zones or the atmosphere. Observations suggest that the fault zone did not alter the CO2 migration along bedding at the scale and depth of the test. Contrary to model predictions, no vertical CO2 migration was detected beyond the perforated injection interval. CO2 and formation water escaped to the surface through the monitoring well at the end of the experiment due to unexpected damage to the well’s fibreglass casing. The well was successfully remediated without impact to the environment and the site is ready for future experiments.