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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Role of critical gas saturation in the interpretation of a field scale CO2 injection experiment


Residual trapping of CO2, typically quantified by residual gas saturation (Sgr), is one of the main trapping mechanisms in geological CO2 storage (GCS). An important additional characteristic parameter is critical gas saturation (Sgc). Sgc determines at what saturation the trapped gas remobilizes again if gas saturation increases due to exsolution from the aqueous phase, rather than from further gas injection. In the present study, a pilot-scale CO2 injection experiment carried out at Heletz, Israel, in 2017, is interpreted by taking critical saturation into account. With regards to this experiment, the delayed second arrival peak of the partitioning tracer could not be captured by means of physical models. In this work, the hysteretic relative permeability functions were modified to account for Sgc. The results showed that accounting for the effect of Sgc during the secondary drainage indeed captured the observed delayed peak. The difference between the values of Sgr and Sgc, influenced both the time and peak height of the tracer arrival. To our knowledge this is first time that critical gas saturation has been considered in field scale analyses related to GCS. Accounting for Sgc is relevant where gas saturation during secondary drainage increases due to gas phase expansion or exsolution from the aqueous phase. This will happen in situations where pressure depletion occurs, e.g. due to gas leakage from fracture zones or wells or possibly because of pressure management activities. The findings also have implications for other applications such as underground gas storage as well as for geothermal reservoir management.

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