1887

Abstract

Summary

Simulation of unstable subsurface CO2 migration is challenging not only because of the accompanying thermal-hydraulic-mechanical-chemical processes, but also because the interaction of the plume with geometrically complex geologic structures (e.g., faults and fractures) has to be resolved across a broad range of spatiotemporal scales. To address these challenges, we present a new hybrid finite element – finite volume simulator (ACGSS) for fully unstructured finite element meshes, including discrete representations of wells and intersecting faults. This compositional multi-phase multi-component transport scheme allows to model reactive miscible flow transport, phase transitions (e.g., CO2 dissolution, H2O evaporation and salt precipitation) and inter-phase mass transfer during CO2 geo-sequestration. Critical for its performance is an asynchronous evolution scheme, following the idea of discrete event simulation (DES). This method restricts diagnostics, phase equilibria and transport computations to those small subregions of the model where changes are occurring, resolving these accurately across temporal and spatial scales. In conjunction with parallelisation, this accelerates computation significantly, also making it more robust. Accurate compositional simulation required us to apply the asynchronous method to both the pressure and the saturation equations. This led to a genuinely new simulator. The ACGSS is applied to a complex 3D fault model, which consists of a sequence of sandstone and shale layers, intersected by multiple faults. This model was produced from a 3D medical scan of a sand-box experiment, which was converted into a finite element mesh using GoCAD and the RINGMesh software and populated with plausible properties. The adaptively refined mesh represent every detail of the intricate model geometry. In the example simulation (CO2 injected at 0.2 Mt/yr through a vertical 15-m long completion in lowest siltstone layer of graben structure), the CO2 rises up through the faults from block to block until it reaches the unfaulted topmost sandstone unit. This occurs in less than 3 years although the faults are modelled as thin (0.5-m wide) and only moderately permeable (k=5 × 10-14 m2) structures. Thanks to the asynchronous time-marching, the 3-year simulation on the >9 million cell grid, completes within several hours on a 20-core desktop PC. A sensitivity analysis to burial depth and geologic parameters is included in the paper and presentation.

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2020-09-14
2021-09-27
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