Reducing uncertainty in predicting the risk of geological storage of CO2 - Improved geomechanical models and calibration using seismic data

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment

Abstract

Although the scientific community and many governments agree that greenhouse gases resulting from the use of hydrocarbon fuels are primarily responsible for producing damaging global climate change, society is still heavily dependent on hydrocarbon fuels for everything from electricity generation, transport, and manufacturing. Time scales involved for viable transitions to low carbon societies will likely be on the order of several decades and thus requiring immediate solutions for reducing current anthropogenic CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Geological storage forms an integral component of the carbon capture, transport and storage (so-called CCS) engineering technology chain and is now recognized by most governments and scientists as a practical strategy with relatively immediate consequences in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, continuing to meet the world's energy needs, and transitioning to low carbon economies. When CO2 is injected and stored in a geological formation, the in situ stress field is altered immediately due to increased pore pressure and reduced temperature within the reservoir. This leads to deformation in both the reservoir and surrounding rock. This deformation can change the injection and storage characteristics of the geological formation. Furthermore, substantial changes can significantly compromise cap-rock integrity (i.e. the barrier to upward flow of buoyant CO2) through the formation fractures and/or the reactivation of existing fractures or faults.

The objective of my fellowship is to address the fundamental uncertainty related to reservoir stress as a response to the geological storage of CO2. The fellowship aims to make a step change in quantifying the uncertainty and risks due to the injection and storage of CO2 in geological storage sites. To accomplish this, the research will develop and advance current approaches in building complex hydro-mechanical models using seismic data, and develop methods to calibrate state-of-the-art hydro-mechanical modelling tools using seismic and surface deformation data. The main outcomes or the fellowship are to significantly improve our ability to:
(i) assess the safety of geological storage sites in the early stages of development to reduce uncertainty and risk, and
(ii) use integrated model predictions to provide a forecasting and mitigating tool to describe the behaviour of geological storage sites due to the injection and storage of CO2.

The fellowship will be conducted at the University of Leeds. The research environment at Leeds will allow me to continue to develop my CCS research, while working with some of the key people in this field. Prof Quentin Fisher has been the driving force behind integrated hydro-mechanics and petro-physics; Prof Bruce Yardley is at the forefront in researching geochemical effects of CO2 injection and fluid-rock; Prof Peter Taylor was former Division Head of the Technology Policy Division in CCS at the International Energy Agency; Prof Andrew Gouldson has proven experience in the policy and risk analysis of low carbon technologies; and Prof Andrew Shepherd has strong expertise in developing novel applications of InSAR to monitor surface deformation in complex terrains.

Planned Impact

The fellowship provides an opportunity to advance the UK's current strengths and capabilities in CO2 storage modelling, prediction and risk quantification by addressing key limitations in integrated modelling workflows and providing valuable insight into the risks and challenges face in future storage activities. The fellowship will have broad impact on a range of stakeholders interested in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), such as scientists, policy makers, regulators and the general public. The fellowship fits broadly into the field of multi-phase flow in porous, deformable media and hence is multidisciplinary. The results can be translated to other key strategic energy areas, such as shale-gas exploitation and geothermal energy, but also by nature benefit scientists working on seismic, geodetic, fluid-flow and geomechanical methods in many basic and applied fields of research studying the impact of pressure and temperature changes on physical systems (e.g. volcanologic or ground-water research).

The impact of the proposed research will touch on:
i. Economy: provide an opportunity to advance the UK's current strengths and capabilities in CCS,
specifically targeting CO2 storage modelling, prediction and risk quantification; provide valuable data to
assess the economic risks and challenges in large-scale storage activities; allow translation to other
key strategic areas, such as geothermal energy and shale-gas exploitation.
ii. Society: provide valuable data to inform policy and regulation for large-scale CCS geological storage
activities as well as other key energy strategic areas, such as geothermal energy and shale-gas
exploitation.

During the fellowship, it will be necessary to identify:
1. What information and who this information should be translated to
2. Which stakeholders could facilitate transfer of information to the appropriate users
3. How to facilitate the translation efforts (e.g., websites, technical white papers, access to online
resources, workshops)
4. How to evaluate knowledge translation efforts by monitoring the implementation and evidencing the
impact.

Critical for maximizing impact is to engage all possible stakeholders in the beginning, which enables relationships to be developed early on enabling effective push and pull efforts in translating the new knowledge. Below is a brief summary of approaches that will be used during the fellowship, how the impact will be assessed and what resources will be required.
1. Knowledge exchange (KE):
i. Development of partnerships with business, government and Non-governmental Organizations
(NGOs) and
ii. Linked data development initiatives. KE will involve the iterative exchange of research ideas, data,
and application opportunities. The data development initiative will entail the creation of databases of
research, bibliographies of academic literature and the interpretation of such literature.
2. Technology transfer and exploitation: The main aim of the proposed fellowship is to aid in the
deployment of CCS technology within the UK to meet the 2020 and 2050 carbon reduction
commitments. To facilitate this, I will engage with those industries currently working on (e.g., Shell, BP,
Statoil) or expressing interest in the geological storage of CO2. This can be achieved by making
in-house presentations, providing access to white papers and research results, fostering collaboration
within (e.g., competitors) and across business sectors and convening workshops. I will also engage with
government organizations (e.g., DECC) early on and throughout the fellowship to identify and define
what information is required for policy and regulation, and work with these organizations to help shape
new policy and regulation.

Publications

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Birnie C (2017) Seismic arrival enhancement through the use of noise whitening in Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors

 
Description DiSECCS: Diagnostic Seismic toolbox for the Efficient Control of CO2 Storage
Amount £900,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K035878/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2016
 
Description Useful noise: study of microseismic noise characteristics and implementation within synthetic full-waveform microseismic dataset for benchmarking
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/L009226/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 08/2018
 
Description Hydro-mechanics software agreement 
Organisation Rockfield Software Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Primarily we will acknowledge both companies as supporting the research as well as making accessible the research output as reports.
Collaborator Contribution Both Roxar and Rockfield have provided free academic licenses to use their software for the duration of the project, for myself and associated PDRAs.
Impact None as yet.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Hydro-mechanics software agreement 
Organisation Roxar AS
Country Norway 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Primarily we will acknowledge both companies as supporting the research as well as making accessible the research output as reports.
Collaborator Contribution Both Roxar and Rockfield have provided free academic licenses to use their software for the duration of the project, for myself and associated PDRAs.
Impact None as yet.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 1st Geomechanics and Energy EAGE talk 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented novel results integrating seismics and geomechanical modelling, which brought much interest from industry and peers.

Now a committee member for the 2nd Geomechanics and Energy workshop (2015) as well as invited to submit paper to the journal Geophysical Prospecting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.earthdoc.org/publication/publicationdetails/?publication=72005
 
Description Aquistore CCS data sharing meeting 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I organised and attending a meeting to facilitate access to the Canadian CCS pilot project Aquistore (BGS, Strathclyde, Leeds and Bristol). This was a one day meeting to help facilitate UK academics drafting project proposal to access the Aquistore data.

Access to data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description CO2CRC UKCCSRC Storage Research 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I will be presenting a plenary talk representing UKCCSRC CO2 storage research and projects (25-26 November).

Improve international collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description GeoRepNet meeting in Keyworth 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Provided venue to bridge CCS and nuclear waste storage community as well as instrumentation scientists.

I managed to visit the BGS geomechanics laboratory and this will hopefully lead to future funding proposals and research collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.georepnet.org/news.html?news_id=21
 
Description Keynote talk at 6th EAGE Passive Seismic Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Keynote talk at 6th Passive Seismic Workshop where I highlighted the importance of integrating geomechanics with microseismic monitoring of reservoir activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.eage.org/event/index.php?eventid=1404
 
Description Penang Geomechanics for Optimum Field Development and Production (2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker to present work in integrating geomechanics and InSAR for assessing CO2 injection for on-shore applications.

Contacts made with some industry to potentially share data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.spe.org/events/14apen/
 
Description SPE-UNCV 2013 Vienna 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented research on microseismic imaging and the importance of knowing the velocity model.

Interest from a small company looking to test their new product and seeking research partner.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/SPE-167728-MS
 
Description Total Energy and Education Seminar 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to participate in Total's TEES workshop - improve recruitment and education of skilled students.

Meet with a large international network of academics (US, African, Asian and European).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.789295407782364.1073741865.171554232889821&type=1
 
Description Total GRC open day keynote speak (2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented keynote talk for Total Geoscience Research Centre open day in Aberdeen.

Sharing information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description UKCCSRC/CO2CRC scoping visit (2013) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact We visited the Australian CCS pilot injection site and met with the scientific, technical and public engagement teams. We discussed future collaboration as well as took part in the CO2CRC symposium to build collaborations with other Australian researchers/industry. As well, we did some preliminary scoping/discussion relating to the upcoming Horizon2020 call for CCS.

Visiting the Otway CCS injection site.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL https://ukccsrc.ac.uk/news-events/blog/mission-australia-november-2013