The effect of reservoir geometry, injection and production parameters and permeability structure on induced seismicity
Abstract:The recent increase in injection induced seismicity (IIS) in previously less seismically active regions highlighted a need for better mitigation strategies and physics-based models of induced seismicity. Previous models of pressure diffusion and fluid flow investigated the change in Coulomb stress as a result of induced pore-pressure perturbations (e.g. Zhang et al., 2013; Keranen et al., 2014; Hornbach et al., 2015; Segall and Lu, 2015). Here, we consider the additional effects of permeability structure, operational parameters and reservoir geometry. We numerically investigate the influence of net fluid injection volumes; linear, radial, and spherical reservoir geometry; as well as reservoir size. The latter can have a substantial effect on changes in Coulomb stress and subsequent induced seismicity.
We report on results from two series of model runs, which explored pressure changes caused by wastewater disposal and water flooding. We observed that a typical water flooding operation that includes production wells and injectors has a lower probability of inducing seismicity. Our observations are in agreement with assessment by National Research Council report on induced seismicity (2012). We developed a third suite of models that investigate the effect of permeability structure on injection-induced seismicity. We examine two cases of wastewater disposal in proximity to active faults: 1) in Central Illinois Basin and 2) in central California. In both cases, we observed that the size of the reservoir, presence of faults, and permeability contrast relative to the host rock, strongly influences the pressure changes with distance and time. These pressure changes vary widely but can easily lead to fault instability and seismic activity at up to 10 km distance from the injection well. The results of this study may help to select safe injection sites and operational conditions in order to minimize injection induced seismicity hazard.