Assessing impacts to groundwater from CO2-flooding of SACROC and Claytonville oil fields in West Texas

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Smyth, Rebecca C.
Holtz, Mark H.
Guillot, Stephen N.

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Comparison of groundwater above two Permian Basin oil fields (SACROC Unit and Claytonville Field) near Snyder, Texas should allow us to assess potential impacts of 30 years of CO2-injection. CO2-flooding for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) has been active at SACROC in Scurry County since 1972. Approximately 13.5 million tons per year (MtCO2/yr) are injected with withdrawal/recycling amounting to ~7MtCO2/yr. It is estimated that the site has accumulated more than 55MtCO2; however, no rigorous investigation of overlying groundwater has demonstrated that CO2 is trapped in the subsurface. Mineralogy of reservoir rocks at the Claytonville field in southwestern Fisher County is similar to SACROC. CO2-EOR is scheduled to begin at Claytonville Field in Fisher County in early 2007. Here we have the opportunity to characterize groundwater prior to CO2-injection and establish baseline conditions at Claytonville. Methods of this study will include: (1) examination of existing analyses of saline to fresh water samples collected within an eight-county area encompassing SACROC and Claytonville, (2) additional groundwater sampling for analysis of general chemistry plus field-measured pH, alkalinity, and temperature, stable isotopic ratios of hydrogen (D/H), oxygen (18O/16O), and carbon (13C/12C), and (3) geochemical equilibrium and flowpath modeling. Existing groundwater data are available from previous BEG studies, Texas Water Development Board, Kinder Morgan CO2 Company, and the U. S. Geological Survey. By examining these data we will identify regional groundwater variability and focus additional sampling efforts. The objective of this study is to look for potential impacts to shallow groundwater from deep CO2-injection. In the absence of conduit flow from depth, we don’t expect to see impacts to shallow groundwater, but methodology to demonstrate this to regulators needs to be established. This work is a subset of the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration Phase 2studies funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) in cooperation with industry and government partners.


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Smyth, R. C., Holtz, M. H., and Guillot, S. N., 2006, Assessing impacts to groundwater from CO2-flooding of SACROC and Claytonville oil fields in West Texas, in Proceedings of the 2006 UIC Conference of the Groundwater Protection Council, Abstract 15. GCCC Digital Publication Series #06-04.