, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 59-78
Date: 24 Jul 2008

Long-term Petrophysical Investigations on Geothermal Reservoir Rocks at Simulated In Situ Conditions

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In the course of stimulation and fluid production, the chemical fluid–rock equilibrium of a geothermal reservoir may become disturbed by either temperature changes and/or an alteration of the fluid chemistry. Consequently, dissolution and precipitation reactions might be induced that result in permeability damage. In connection with the field investigations at a deep geothermal doublet, complementary laboratory-based research is performed to address these effects. The reservoir is located at a depth of 4100 to 4200 m near Groß Schönebeck within the Northeast German Basin, 50 km north of Berlin, Germany. Within the reservoir horizon, an effective pressure of approximately 45 MPa and a temperature of 150°C are encountered. Furthermore, the Lower Permian (Rotliegend) reservoir rock is saturated with a highly saline Ca–Na–Cl type formation fluid (TDS ≈ 255 g/l). Under these conditions we performed two sets of long-term flow-through experiments. The pore fluid used during the first and the second experiment was a 0.1 molar NaCl-solution and a synthetic Ca–Na–Cl type fluid with the specifications as above, respectively. The maximum run duration was 186 days. In detail, we experimentally addressed: (1) the effect of long-term flow on rock permeability in connection with possible changes in fluid chemistry and saturation; (2) the occurrence and consequences of baryte precipitation; and (3) potential precipitations related to oxygen-rich well water invasion during water-frac stimulation. In all substudies petrophysical experiments related to the evolution of rock permeability and electrical conductivity were complemented with microstructural investigations and a chemical fluid analysis. We also report the technical challenges encountered when corrosive fluids are used in long-term in situ petrophysical experiments. After it was assured that experimental artifacts can be excluded, it is demonstrated that the sample permeability remained approximately constant within margins of  ±50 % for nearly six months. Furthermore, an effect of baryte precipitation on the rock permeability was not observed. Finally, the fluid exchange procedure did not alter the rock transport properties. The results of the chemical fluid analysis are in support of these observations. In both experiments the electrical conductivity of the samples remained unchanged for a given fluid composition and constant p-T conditions. This emphasizes its valuable complementary character in determining changes in rock transport properties during long-term flow-through experiments when the risk of experimental artifacts is high.