Investigation of water displacement following large CO2 sequestration operations
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The scale of CO2 injection into the subsurface required to address CO2 atmospheric concentrations is unprecedented. Multiple injection sites injecting into multiple formations will create a large excess pressure zone extending far beyond the limited volume where CO2 is present. In a closed system, additional mass is accommodated by the compressibility of system components, an increase in fluid pressure, and possibly an uplift of the land surface. In an open system, as assumed in this analysis, another coping mechanism involves fluid flux out of the boundaries of the system, in which case the fresh-water-bearing outcrop areas, corresponding to the up-dip sections of the down-dip formations into which CO2 is injected, could be impacted. A preliminary study using a MODFLOW groundwater model extending far down-dip shows that injecting a large amount of fluid does have an impact some distance away from the injection area but most likely only in localized areas. A major assumption of this preliminary work was that multiphase processes do not matter some distance away from the injection zones. In a second step, presented in this paper, to demonstrate that a simplified model can yield results as useful as those of a more sophisticated multiphase-flow compositional model, we model the same system using CMG-GEM software. Because the chosen software lacks the ability to deal easily with unconfined water flow, we compare fluxes through time, as given by MODFLOW and CMG-GEM models at the confined/unconfined interface.