Compaction and Permeability Reduction of Castlegate Sandstone under Pore Pressure Cycling

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:00 AM
Stephen J Bauer, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, United States
We investigate time-dependent compaction and permeability changes by cycling pore pressure with application to compressed air energy storage (CAES) in a reservoir. Preliminary experiments capture the impacts of hydrostatic stress, pore water pressure, pore pressure cycling, chemical, and time-dependent considerations near a borehole in a CAES reservoir analog. CAES involves creating an air bubble in a reservoir. The high pressure bubble serves as a mechanical battery to store potential energy. When there is excess grid energy, bubble pressure is increased by air compression, and when there is energy needed on the grid, stored air pressure is released through turbines to generate electricity. 

The analog conditions considered are depth ~1 km, overburden stress ~20 MPa and a pore pressure ~10MPa. Pore pressure is cycled daily or more frequently between ~10 MPa and 6 MPa, consistent with operations of a CAES facility at this depth and may continue for operational lifetime (25 years). The rock can vary from initially fully-to-partially saturated. Pore pressure cycling changes the effective stress.

Jacketed, room temperature tap water-saturated samples of Castlegate Sandstone are hydrostatically confined (20 MPa) and subjected to a pore pressure resulting in an effective pressure of ~10 MPa. Pore pressure is cycled between 6 to 10 MPa. Sample displacement measurements yielded determinations of volumetric strain and from water flow measurements permeability was determined. Experiments ran for two to four weeks, with 2 to 3 pore pressure cycles per day. The Castlegate is a fluvial high porosity (>20%) primarily quartz sandstone, loosely calcite cemented, containing a small amount of clay.

Pore pressure cycling induces compaction (~.1%) and permeability decreases (~20%). The results imply that time-dependent compactive processes are operative. The load path, of increasing and decreasing pore pressure, may facilitate local loosening and grain readjustments that results in the compaction and permeability decreases observed.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.SAND2014-16586A