A major concern in development of fractured reservoirs in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) is to achieve and maintain adequate injectivity, while avoiding short-circuiting flow paths. The injection performance and flow paths are dominated by the permeability distribution of fracture network for EGS reservoirs. The evolution of reservoir permeability can be affected by rock deformation, induced by the change in temperature or pressure around the injector, and chemical reactions between injection fluid and reservoir rock minerals. Thus the change in permeability due to geomechanical deformation and mineral precipitation/dissolution could have a major impact on reservoir long-term performance. A coupled thermal-hydrological-mechanical-chemical (THMC) model is in general necessary to examine the reservoir behavior in EGS.
This paper presents a numerical model, TOUGH2-EGS, for simulating coupled THMC processes in enhanced geothermal reservoirs. This simulator is built by coupling mean stress calculation and reactive geochemistry into the existing framework of TOUGH2 (Pruess et al., 1999) and TOUGHREACT (Xu et al., 2004a), the well-established numerical simulators for geothermal reservoir simulation. The geomechanical model is fully-coupled as mean stress equations are solved simultaneously with fluid and heat flow equations. After solution of the fluid, heat, and stress equations, the flow velocity and phase saturations are used for reactive geochemical transport simulation in order to sequentially couple reactive geochemistry at each time step.
We perform coupled THMC simulations to examine a prototypical EGS reservoir for permeability evolution at the vicinity of the injection well. The simulation results demonstrate the strong influence of rock deformation effects in the short and intermediate term, and long-term influence of chemical effects. It is observed that the permeability enhancement by thermal-mechanical effect can be counteracted by the chemical precipitation of minerals, initially dissolved into the low temperature injected water. We analyze the sensitivity of temperature of injected water on the coupled geomechanical and geochemical effects, and conclude that the temperature of injected water could be modified to maintain or even enhance the reservoir permeability and the injection performance.