Modeling CO2 Sequestration and Enhanced Gas Recovery in Complex Unconventional Reservoirs

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Virginia Tech

Geologic sequestration of CO2 into unmineable coal seams is proposed as a way to mitigate the greenhouse gas effect and potentially contribute to economic prosperity through enhanced methane recovery.

In 2009, the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) injected 907 tonnes of CO2 into one vertical coalbed methane well for one month in Russell County, Virginia (VA). The main objective of the test was to assess storage potential of coal seams and to investigate the potential of enhanced gas recovery. In 2014, a larger scale test is planned where 20,000 tonnes of CO2 will be injected into three vertical coalbed methane wells over a period of a year in Buchanan County, VA.

During primary coalbed methane production and enhanced production through CO2 injection, a series of complex physical and mechanical phenomena occur. The ability to represent the behavior of a coalbed reservoir as accurately as possible via computer simulations yields insight into the processes taking place and is an indispensable tool for the decision process of future operations. More specifically, the economic viability of projects can be assessed by predicting production: well performance can be maximized, drilling patterns can be optimized and, most importantly, associated risks with operations can be accounted for and possibly avoided.

However, developing representative computer models and successfully simulating reservoir production and injection regimes is challenging. A large number of input parameters are required, many of which are uncertain even if they are determined experimentally or via in-situ measurements. Such parameters include, but are not limited to, seam geometry, formation properties, production constraints, etc.

Modeling of production and injection in multi-seam formations for hydraulically fractured wells is a recent development in coalbed methane/enhanced coalbed methane (CBM/ECBM) reservoir modeling, where models become even more complex and demanding. In such cases model simulation times become important.

The development of accurate simulation models that correctly account for the behavior of coalbeds in primary and enhanced production is a process that requires attention to detail, data validation, and model verification. A number of simplifying assumptions are necessary to run these models, where the user should be able to balance accuracy with computational time.

In this thesis, pre- and post-injection simulations for the site in Russell County, VA, and preliminary reservoir simulations for the Buchanan County, VA, site are performed. The concepts of multi-well, multi-seam, explicitly modeled hydraulic fractures and skin factors are incorporated with field results to provide accurate modeling predictions.

coalbed methane, carbon dioxide, reservoir modeling, unconventional reservoirs