Class I and Class II waste re-injection are the most important methods for disposing of fluid in North Dakota: in 2007, more than 96% of produced water were disposed of using underground injection, and by 2012 all produced water was being managed by underground injection. While Class II injection covers waste produced from most Exploration & Production (E&P) activities, Class I injection wells are used for disposing of a special class of industrial wastes, including waste generated by petroleum refining, metal production, chemical production, pharmaceutical production, commercial disposal, and food production. Non-hazardous industrial waste and Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) not associated with E&P can also be injected using Class I wells. In all cases, the primary concern for permitting and safe operations is to (1) predict the movement of the injected waste to ensure that it stays within pre-defined formations, and (2) ensure that pore-pressure increases caused by injection do not impact neighboring offset wells.
Results from a geochemical study of the feasibility of disposal into the Dakota Sands (Inyan Kara formation) in North Dakota will be presented. Analyses were made using a compositional reservoir simulation (REVEAL) to predict the pore-pressure distribution, direction and movement of the injected fluid, as well as chemical reactions between formation brine/waste/formation rocks and the effect of these chemical reactions on formation injectivity and cap rock integrity. Forecasts indicate that over 50 years of injection the injected wastes will be completely trapped within the Dakota Sands (no fluid flow is expected to penetrate through the cap rock) and injection pressures are expected to remain well below the estimated fracture pressure. While the Inyan Kara formation is therefore a reasonable storage trap for industrial wastes, carbonate and sulfate scales may cause near wellbore formation damage and rising wellhead pressures which operators will need to address.