Carbon Sequestration in Unconventional Reservoirs: Advantages and Limitations

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Natalia V Zakharova, Angela L Slagle and David Goldberg, Lamont-Doherty Earth Obs, Palisades, NY, United States
To make a significant impact on anthropogenic CO2 emissions, geologic carbon sequestration would require thousands of CO2 repositories around the world. Unconventional reservoirs, such as igneous rocks and fractured formations, may add substantial storage capacity and diversify CO2 storage options. In particular, basaltic rocks represent a promising target due to their widespread occurrence, potentially suitable reservoir structure and high reactivity with CO2, but a comprehensive evaluation of worldwide CO2 sequestration capacity in unconventional reservoirs is lacking. In this presentation we summarize available data on storage potential of basaltic rocks and fractured formations illustrated by field examples from the Columbia River Basalt, the Newark Rift Basin and IODP Site 1256, and discuss potential limiting factors, such as effective porosity and the risk of inducing earthquakes by CO2 injections.

Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), low-volume flows and intrusions, and ocean floor basalt represent three general classes of basaltic reservoirs, each characterized by different structure and storage capacity. Oceanic plateaus and LIPs are projected to have the highest CO2 storage capacity, on the order of thousands gigatons (Gt) per site, followed by continental LIPs and ocean floor basalts (hundreds to thousands Gt per site). Isolated basalt flows and intrusions are likely to offer only low- to moderate-capacity options. An important limiting factor on CO2 injection volumes and rates is the risk of inducing earthquakes by increasing pore pressure in the subsurface. On continents, available in situ stress analysis suggests that local stress perturbations at depth may create relaxed stress conditions, allowing for pore pressure increase without reactivating fractures and faults. Remote storage sites on oceanic plateaus and below the seafloor are advantageous due to low impact of potential seismic and/or leakage events. Other effects, such as thermal stresses created by temperature difference between injected fluid and the host formation, may be particularly important for reservoir stability in high-temperature offshore locations. Overall, unconventional reservoirs in offshore locations offer the potential benefits of vast and safe storage for captured CO2 emissions.