CO2 migration and trapping in saline aquifers involves the injection of a non-wetting fluid that displaces the in-situ brine, a process that is often termed ‘drainage’ in reservoir flow dynamics. With respect to simulation, however, this process is more typical of regional basin modelling and percolating hydrocarbon migration. In this study, we applied the invasion percolation method commonly used in hydrocarbon migration modelling to the CO2 injection operation at the Sleipner storage site.

We applied a CO2 migration model that was simulated using a modified invasion percolation algorithm, based upon the Young-Laplace principle of fluid flow. This algorithm assumes that migration occurs in a state of capillary equilibrium in a flow regime dominated by buoyancy (driving) and capillary (restrictive) forces. Entrapment occurs when rock capillary threshold pressure exceeds fluid buoyancy pressure. Leaking occurs when fluid buoyancy pressure exceeds rock capillary threshold pressure. This is now widely understood to be an accurate description of basin-scale hydrocarbon migration and reservoir filling.

The geological and geophysical analysis of the Sleipner CO2 plume anatomy, as observed from the seismic data, suggested that the distribution of CO2 was strongly affected by the geological heterogeneity of the storage formation. In the simulation model, the geological heterogeneity were honored by taking the original resolution of the seismic volume as the base grid. The model was then run at an ultra-fast simulation time in a matter of seconds or minutes per realization, which allowed multiple scenarios to be performed for uncertainty analysis. It was then calibrated to the CO2 plume distribution observed on seismic, and achieved an accurate match.

The paper establishes that the physical principle of CO2 flow dynamics follows the Young-Laplace flow physics. It is then argued that this method is most suitable for the regional site screening and characterization, as well as for site-specific injectivity and containment analysis in saline aquifers.

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