Underground gas storage (UGS) is a practice that is becoming widely implemented to cope with seasonal peaks of gas consumption. When the target reservoir is located in a faulted basin, a major safety issue concerns the reactivation of pre-existing faults, possibly inducing (micro-) seismicity. Faults are reactivated when the shear stress exceeds the limiting acceptable strength. It has been observed in The Netherlands that this occurrence can happen “unexpectedly” during the life of a UGS reservoir, i.e. when the actual stress regime is not expected to reach the failure condition. A numerical analysis by a 3D FE-IE elasto-plastic geomechanical simulator has been carried out to cast light in this respect, by investigating the mechanisms and the critical factors that can be responsible for a fault reactivation during the various stages of UGS in reservoirs located in the Rotliegend formation. The model outcomes show that the settings (in terms of reservoir and fault geometry, geomechanical parameters, and pressure change distribution) more prone to fault activation during primary production are also the most critical ones during cushion gas injection and UGS cycles.

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