Geologic Carbon Sequestration


Core Carbon Storage and Monitoring Research (CCSMR)

DOE-FE-Office of Fossil Energy

Seismic recorders and DAS fiber interrogator setup in the instrumentation hut.

The Core Carbon Storage and Monitoring Research Program (CCSMR) aims to advance emergent monitoring technologies that can be used in commercial carbon storage projects. Our Targeted R&D porfolio for FY18 is focused on advancing monitoring technologies considered essential for enabling carbon storage but require further development in order to meet performance and cost goals to support multi-decadal reservoir surveillance. Much of our progress to date has relied on using highly leveraged international collaborations, where LBNL can apply emergent technologies in field monitoring to help accelerate the commercialization of carbon sequestration. The monitoring technologies we are focused on include permanent seismic imaging using surface orbital vibrators and distributed acoustic sensing (SOV-DAS), advancement of joint EM-seismic methods, technology for monitoring induced seismicity, investigating fault leakage mechanics and long-term cap-rock seal capabilities, fiber-optic strain monitoring in the subsurface. Current international research partners include Carbon Management Canada’s Containment and Monitoring Institute, the Petroleum Technology Research Council Aquistore Project, CO2CRC’s Otway Project and at the Swiss Mont Terri rock laboratory. In each of our tasks we address a technology that is initially considered at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3-4 and we aim to advance it to the TRL of 4-5.

Task 1: Project Management and Planning will include all work elements required to maintain and revise the Project Management Plan, and to manage and report on activities in accordance with the plan. It will also include the necessary activities to ensure coordination and planning of the project with DOE/NETL and other project participants.

Task 2: 2nd Generation SOV-DAS

The capability for SOV-DAS to be used for seismic imaging has been explored by initial trials at two field laboratories, the CO2CRC Otway Project site and the ADM IMS project. While these initial trials allowed us to test the basic concept, there were many lessons learned, both in the design and operation of hardware and the collection and processing of data. We have identified several areas required to advance the maturity level of the technology, which we plan to address during the Otway Stage 3 project. The Otway Project Stage 3 plans to incorporate SOV-DAS technology using a total of 10 SOV source points distributed throughout the monitoring field and an extensive network of DAS cable installed using horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Preliminary testing during FY17 showed that high frequency motors, even with lower force can improve seismic imaging acquisition. We plan to install both 10 Ton-force motors that can operate up to 80 Hz along with 4 Ton-force motors that operate up to 160 Hz and explore ways to acquire and merge data from those two collocated sources. We also learned that there needs to be greater understanding in what constitutes an optimal source signature for data deconvolution. Further deployments of the DAS-SOV technology will allow us to improve the understanding on how to make a field-laboratory scale system. The Otway Stage 3 SOV-DAS network will be used to monitor an injection of approximately 40,000 T CO2-rich gas supplied by the nearby Buttress Well.

Task 3: Monitoring Leakage Pathways – Joint EM and Seismic, Borehole and Surface Technologies

In this task LBNL is developing technologies to improve monitoring of two important aspects of carbon storage: geologic leakage pathways and well integrity. In particular, we are monitoring these at ‘intermediate depth’ the depth range where CO2 is in gas phase rather than supercritical. Leakage detection is expected to be enhanced when upward migrating CO2 transitions from supercritical to gas phase. These field-scale monitoring technologies need to be tested with appropriate scale subsurface heterogeneity, which requires use of field laboratories. We are benefiting from access to a recently developed facility focused on intermediate depth monitoring technologies. Carbon Management Canada (CMC) has set up a Containment and Monitoring Institute (CaMI) which developed a Field Research Station (FRS) to study monitoring technologies. The CaMI-FRS program is designed around moderate injection volumes (up to 1000 tonnes per year) of CO2 (possibly with small amounts of impurities such as CH4 or other tracers) at depths of approximately 300 m and 500 m. The injection targets are water filled sandstones reservoir formations, with overlying shales or mixed sand/shale sequences forming the cap rocks. This storage test is important because (1) the CO2 will be gas phase, thus being an analog for a thief zone, and (2) the upper storage formation has a potentially incomplete seal and is expected to have upward migration of CO2 allowing monitoring of a leakage analog.

LBNL is also testing emergent technologies in the areas of well-based fluid sampling, distributed fiber-optic sensing (DTS and DAS), and EM monitoring to help understand the movement of CO2 in the shallow subsurface. Initial baseline geophysical surveys using the LBNL monitoring tools were conducted in FY17. Current work is focused on integration and interpretation of baseline surveys and acquisition of follow-up surveys following injection.

Task 4: Monitoring Technology for Deep CO2 Injection

This task develops technologies for monitoring deep CO2 injection at or near basement level in a deep sedimentary basin to improve CO2 storage security and to quantify and reduce the risk of induced seismicity from long term injection. Because of the nature of subsurface heterogeneity, it is essential that we test deep CO2 monitoring technologies in a field-scale laboratory setting, and we are able to leverage access to a deep monitoring well at the Aquistore site.

The Aquistore site, in association with the Boundary Dam coal power plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, is one of the world’s most significant full-chain demonstration projects for carbon capture and storage and provides an excellent field-scale laboratory setting for monitoring long-term CO2 injection. While a large percentage of the CO2 captured at the coal power plant is expected to be used for EOR, Aquistore serves as a good demonstration site for permanent deep geo-sequestration at 3.4 km depth, just above basement. Over 100 Mtonnes of CO2 have been injected at the Aquistore site so far, and as injection continues the CO2 plume and the pressure will both grow, increasing the potential for induced seismicity.

Aquistore is a unique resource for testing CO2 monitoring technology due to the availability of a deep injection well, a deep monitoring well with a permanent fiber installation cemented behind casing, and a permanent surface geophone array. LBNL, with DOE funding, has been collaborating with the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) and the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC/NRCan) at Aquistore to implement a multicomponent geophysical monitoring program incorporating fiber-optic technology. Fiber-optic cable was permanently installed behind casing in the Aquistore monitoring well in 2012; LBNL installed an additional 2 km of subsurface linear and helical fiber in FY16.

This task will leverage investments made in developing the Aquistore facility. LBNL will test new technologies for monitoring induced seismicity, as well as participate in ongoing repeat-monitoring of the CO2 plume using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS). Multiple acquisition geometries can be tested including borehole and surface seismic, with advanced optical sensing that can be compared to state-of-the-art electrical (geophone) sensors for both ambient (micro-seismic) and active-source monitoring.

Task 5: US-Japan CCS Collaboration on Fibre-Optic Technology

As one facet of the broader US-Japan CCS Collaboration, scientific teams from Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) and LBNL will collaborate on advancing fiber-optic sensing technology for monitoring carbon sequestration. Our initial collaboration will consider the used of distributed strain sensing (DSS) to monitor geomechanical processes during CO2 injection. Using the CaMI FRS Site scientists from RITE are operating a Rayleigh based strain monitoring system. An analogous system based on Brillouin technology is used by LBNL. Both research groups will assess the maturity of DSS for providing critical information on hydro-mechanical coupling. During the previous year LBNL has (1) installed a fiber network 4.5 km long composed of several different optical cables to test their ability to capture radial and axial strain and to compare their sensitivity, (2) performed strain and temperature calibration tests on the different optical cables in laboratory, (3) developed a 3D geomechanical model of the CaMI FRS Site with detailed discretization of storage, cap rock formations and wells designs and (4) is monitoring in situ the temperature and strain since CO2 injection has started end of 2017. For next year, we plan to analyze the field data (distributed strain, injection rate, wellhead pressure, etc.) and use them to calibrate the 3D hydro-geomechanical model. The goal of these simulations is to estimate the amount of strains caused by the CO2 injection and the amount of strain captured by the optical fiber network. The goals of these simulations are (i) to estimate the amount of strains and stress variations associated with the CO2 injection, (ii) to compare the calculated three main component of the strain tensors with the strain monitored along the optical cables and (iii) to develop equations to infer the full 3D strain tensor along the optical cables from the monitored Brillouin frequency shift. To improve our estimation, we also plan to characterize in-situ the coupling between casing, cement, optical fiber and rock formations. Indeed, it is fundamental to fully understand how these different envelops will influence the strain propagation from the rock formation to the optical cable. To do this, we will lower an inflatable packer in one of the observation well and inflate it at a specific depth to mechanically stimulate the different envelops of the well with a well-known and well control source while monitoring the strain distribution along the optical fiber.

Task 6: Fault-Leakage and Security

The end-product of this task is the development of an approach to estimate the mechanisms of fault leakage evolution with time, during and following fault rupture in a reservoir cap-rock. This research is focused on the assessment of CO2 storage security and of the integrity of reservoirs cap-rocks, including the estimation of cap-rocks sealing long term capabilities. We propose to develop high resolution methods to map fault rupture and leakage parameters from permanent monitoring techniques coupling strain and seismic monitoring. Our analysis approach includes the implementation of refined constitutive laws in fully coupled hydromechanical numerical models and their calibration from field laboratory experiments (for example the Mont Terri Fault slip experiment(s)).

Current LBNL Task Leads:

CCSMR Tasks have evolved over the years… here are some previous years’ tasks:

Otway Project. The Australian CO2CRC Otway Project has several phases that will provide opportunities for testing emergent technology. In FY15 LBNL designed and fabricated two rotary seismic sources that have been incorporated into the Otway Stage 2c test program. They were installed in September 2015 and were operated for seismic acquisition throughout the Stage 2c test in FY16. There is also a network of 35 km of installed optical fiber for DAS sensing. This array is installed in parallel to a conventional surface geophone array. Working with geophysicists from Curtin University we will be able to compare the potential of the DAS technology to conventional geophones, consider the current state of the art:

Subtask: Installation of two permanent rotary seismic surface sources
Subtask: Recording seismic data using an areal fiber-optic network
Subtask: Data processing and reporting

Aquistore Collaboration. The Boundary Dam project is one of the world’s most significant full chain demonstration projects for carbon capture and storage. While a large percentage of the CO2 will be used for EOR, the Aquistore Site will serve as a demonstration for permanent geosequestration. LBNL has been collaborating with the PTRC since 2013 to implement a multicomponent geophysical monitoring program incorporating fiber-optic technology. Following participation in baseline monitoring which demonstrated the applicability of fiber optic monitoring at the Aquistore site, LBNL will participate in ongoing repeat monitoring using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) to monitor the injected CO2 plume. Multiple geometries can be tested including vertical seismic profiling (VSP), surface seismic, ambient noise and microseismic monitoring.

Subtask 3.1: Installation and operation of a surface fiber
Subtask 3.2: Repeat 3D VSP using DAS technology
Subtask 3.3: Microseismic Monitoring

Carbon Management Canada Field Research Station Collaboration. The CMC Containment and Monitoring Institute (CaMI) is building a field research facility called the Field Research Station (FRS). The FRS program will be designed around small injections (up to 1000 tonnes per year) of CO2 (possibly with small amounts of impurities such as CH4 or other tracers) at depths of approximately 300 m and 500 m. The injection targets are water filled sandstones reservoir formations, with overlying shales or mixed sand/shale sequences forming the cap rocks. LBNL will provide emergent technologies in the areas of well-based fluid sampling, fiber-optic DTS and DAS, and EM monitoring to help understand the movement of CO2 in the shallow subsurface.

Subtask: CMC FRS Seismic Crosswell Design Plan
Subtask: Borehole to Surface and Crosswell EM at the CAMI Site for Monitoring CO2 Sequestration
Subtask: Monitoring well design and installation support for U-tube fluid sampling and fiber-optic sensing
Subtask: Carbon Management Canada Monitoring

Optimization framework for improved CO2 injectivity, storage permanence, monitoring, and utilization seeks to develop and field software tools, for the real-time adaptive control, and management of CO2 injections. This work, using FY15 carryover funds, is addressing issues of injectivity and permanence while seeking to identify candidate sites for application.

Subtask: Framework Injectivity
Subtask: Permanence
Subtask: Monitoring and Inverse Modeling
Subtask: Framework Utilization

Mont Terri Project

The Mont Terri fault slip experiment seeks to explore the permeability evolution associated to the slip activation of a clay-rich fault zone which is an analogue to a minor fault that would hardly be detectable from surface seismic surveys during the initial design of a sequestration site. Using limited carry-over funds from FY15 we have been processing, during FY16, the field data and initiating numerical modeling of some of the injection experiments conducted at Mont Terri in October 2015. The modeling conducted at LBNL will continue and focus on the understanding of the relationships between fault movement, permeability change and induced seismicity during the experiments. Collaborations will continue with Swisstopo (Switzerland) to relate the estimated stresses to the fault zone structure, and with JAEA (Japan) to compare laboratory scale with field scale fault zone frictional properties variations during injections.

Cascadia Project – Discrete Fiber Optic Borehole Accelerometers

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a non-profit initiative of the University of Victoria, Canada, will be collaborating with LBNL in the use of discrete fiber-optic seismic sensor technology to detect microseismicity in a borehole environment. The order of magnitude increased sensitivity offered by this technology is of interest to researchers on the West Coast involved in monitoring weak microseismic “tremors” associated with the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ). These weak signals are thought to be related to stress redistribution at great depths that could be a precursor to a much larger event. Researchers have confirmed that a very strong earthquake (Magnitude 9.0+) associated with the CSZ last occurred in 1701 and could occur again in the near future. Such an earthquake would impact both U.S. and Canadian facilities with impacts as far south as California.

The objective of the Cascadia project is to perform a long term monitoring test of new technology – discrete fiber optic accelerometer sensors – for improved microseismic monitoring of CO2 sequestration. Monitoring with discrete 3-component sensors is necessary for accurate and complete characterization of the source mechanisms of smaller magnitude seismic events that are important for early notification and characterization of induced seismicity (IS), or for improved induced-seismicity risk assessment. Discrete fiber-optic accelerometers are an advance in 3-component sensing, where 3-component vector data are needed to discriminate different types of failure mechanisms associated with the induced seismicity, i.e. shear failure versus tensile, or mixed mode failure.

Failure mechanisms of induced seismicity are useful for relating the seismicity to permeability enhancement, fault/fracture network configurations, and other physical properties. The increased sensitivity of the discrete fiber optic sensors over geophones or linear DAS fiber optic cables will allow the detection and location of many more events in the lower magnitudes, giving a more complete and accurate mapping of fluid invasion and pressure distribution.


Prior to CCSMR

CCSMR related research began at the beginning of FY15. Some of the research being conducted under CCSMR is related to research that originated with tasks under the Consolidated Sequestration Research Project (CSRP) which wrapped up at the end of FY15.