Fate(s) of injected CO2 in a coal-bearing formation, Louisiana, Gulf Coast Basin: Chemical and isotopic tracers of microbial-brine-rock-CO2 interactions

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Abstract

Coal beds are one of the most promising reservoirs for geologic carbon dioxide (CO₂) sequestration, as CO₂ can strongly adsorb onto organic matter and displace methane; however, little is known about the long-term fate of CO₂ sequestered in coal beds. The "2800' sand" of the Olla oil field is a coal-bearing, oil and gas-producing reservoir of the Paleocene–Eocene Wilcox Group in north-central Louisiana. In the 1980s, this field, specifically the 2800' sand, was flooded with CO₂ in an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project, with 9.0×10⁷m³ of CO₂ remaining in the 2800' sand after injection ceased. This study utilized isotopic and geochemical tracers from co-produced natural gas, oil and brine from reservoirs located stratigraphically above, below and within the 2800' sand to determine the fate of the remaining EOR-CO₂, examining the possibilities of CO₂ migration, dissolution, mineral trapping, gas-phase trapping, and sorption to coal beds, while also testing a previous hypothesis that EOR-CO₂ may have been converted by microbes (CO₂-reducing methanogens) into methane, creating a microbial "hotspot". Reservoirs stratigraphically-comparable to the 2800' sand, but located in adjacent oil fields across a 90-km transect were sampled to investigate regional trends in gas composition, brine chemistry and microbial activity. The source field for the EOR-CO₂, the Black Lake Field, was also sampled to establish the δ¹³C-CO₂ value of the injected gas (0.9‰ +/- 0.9‰). Four samples collected from the Olla 2800' sand produced CO₂-rich gas with δ¹³C-CO₂ values (average 9.9‰) much lower than average (pre-injection) conditions (+15.9‰, average of sands located stratigraphically below the 2800' sand in the Olla Field) and at much higher CO₂ concentrations (24.9 mole %) than average (7.6 mole %, average of sands located stratigraphically below the 2800' sand in the Olla Field), suggesting the presence of EOR-CO₂ and gas-phase trapping as a major storage mechanism. Using δ¹³C values of CO₂ and dissolved organic carbon (DIC), CO₂ dissolution was also shown to be a major storage mechanism for 3 of the 4 samples from the Olla 2800' sand. Minor storage mechanisms were shown to be migration, which only affected 2 samples (from 1 well), and some EOR-CO₂ conversion to microbial methane for 3 of the 4 Olla 2800' sand samples. Since methanogenesis was not shown to be a major storage mechanism for the EOR-CO₂ in the Olla Field (CO₂ injection did not stimulate methanogenesis), samples were examined from adjacent oil fields to determine the cause of the Olla microbial "hot-spot". Microbial methane was found in all oil fields sampled, but indicators of methanogenesis (e.g. alkalinity, high δ¹³C-DIC values) were the greatest in the Olla Field, and the environmental conditions (salinity, pH, temperature) were most ideal for microbial CO₂ reduction in the Olla field, compared to adjacent fields.

Additional publication details

Publication type Thesis
Publication Subtype Thesis
Title Fate(s) of injected CO2 in a coal-bearing formation, Louisiana, Gulf Coast Basin: Chemical and isotopic tracers of microbial-brine-rock-CO2 interactions
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher The University of Arizona
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description 70 p.