Numerical modeling and simulation are essential tools for developing a better understanding of the geologic characteristics of aquifers and providing technical support for future carbon dioxide (CO2) storage projects. Modeling CO2 sequestration in underground aquifers requires the implementation of models of multiphase flow and CO2 and brine phase behavior. Capillary pressure and relative permeability need to be consistent with permeability/porosity variations of the rock. It is, therefore, crucial to gain confidence in the numerical models by validating the models and results by use of laboratory and field pilot results. A published CO2/brine laboratory coreflood was selected for our simulation study. The experimental results include subcore porosity and CO2-saturation distributions by means of a computed tomography (CT) scanner along with a CO2-saturation histogram. Data used in this paper are all based on those provided by Krause et al. (2011), with the exception of the CT porosity data. We generated a heterogeneous distribution for the porosity but honoring the mean value provided by Krause et al. (2011). We also generated the permeability distribution with the mean value for the whole core given by Krause et al. (2011). All the other data, such as the core dimensions, injection rate, outlet pressure, temperature, relative permeability, and capillary pressure, are the same as those in Krause et al. (2011). High-resolution coreflood simulations of brine displacement with supercritical CO2 are presented with the compositional reservoir simulator IPARS (Wheeler and Wheeler 1990). A 3D synthetic core model was constructed with permeability and porosity distributions generated by use of the geostatistical software FFTSIM [Jennings et al. (2000)], with cell sizes of 1.27×1.27×6.35mm.

The core was initially saturated with brine. Fluid properties were calibrated with the equation-of-state (EOS) compositional model to match the measured data provided by Krause et al. (2011). We used their measured capillary pressure and relative permeability curves. However, we scaled capillary pressure on the basis of the Leverett J-function (Leverett 1941) for permeability, porosity, and interfacial tension (IFT) in every simulation grid cell.

Saturation images provide insight into the role of heterogeneity of CO2 distribution in which a slight variation in porosity gives rise to large variations in CO2-saturation distribution in the core. High-resolution numerical results indicated that accurate representation of capillary pressure at small scales was critical. Residual brine saturation and the subsequent shift in the relative permeability curves showed a significant impact on final CO2 distribution in the core.

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