Evolution of Abnormally Low Pressure at Bravo Dome and its Implications for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Daria Akhbari, University of Texas at Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences, Austin, TX, United States and Marc A Hesse, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States
Carbon capture and storage allows reductions of the rapidly rising CO2 from fossil fuel-based power generation, if large storage rates and capacities can be achieved. The injection of large fluid volumes at high rates leads to a build-up of pore-pressure in the storage formation that may induce seismicity and compromise the storage security. Many natural CO2 fields in midcontinent US, in contrast, are under-pressured rather than over-pressured suggesting that natural processes reduce initial over-pressures and generate significant under-pressures. The question is therefore to understand the sequence of process(es) that allow the initial over-pressure to be eliminated and the under-pressure to be maintained over geological periods of time.

We therefore look into pressure evolution in Bravo Dome, one of the largest natural CO2 accumulations in North America, which stores 1.3 Gt of CO2. Bravo Dome is only 580-900 m deep and is divided into several compartments with near gas-static pressure (see Figure). The pre-production gas pressures in the two main compartments that account for 70% of the mass of CO2 stored at Bravo Dome are more than 6 MPa below hydrostatic pressure.

Here we show that the under-pressure in the Bravo Dome CO2 reservoir is maintained by hydrological compartmentalization over millennial timescales and generated by a combination of processes including cooling, erosional unloading, limited leakage into overlying formations, and CO2 dissolution into brine. Herein, we introduce CO2 dissolution into brine as a new process that reduce gas pressure in a compartmentalized reservoir and our results suggest that it may contribute significantly to reduce the initial pressure build-up due to injection.

Bravo Dome is the first documented case of pressure drop due to CO2 dissolution. To have an accurate prediction of pressure evolution in Bravo Dome, our models must include geomechanics and thermodynamics for the reservoir while they account for the pressure changes due to the CO2 dissolution.