Mitigating climate change via CO2 sequestration into Biyadh reservoir: geomechanical modeling and caprock integrity


Excessive emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, can cause severe global climatic changes, which may include an increase in the global temperature, rise of the sea level, increase in wildfire, floods, and storms, in addition to changes in the amount of rain and snow. The global mitigation strategies that can be envisioned to reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere include retrofitting buildings with more energy-efficient systems, increasing the dependency on renewable energy sources in lieu of fossil fuels, increasing the use of sustainable transportation systems that rely on electricity and biofuels, and adopting globally more sustainable uses of land and forests. To reduce global climatic changes, the excess amount of carbon dioxide in the environment needs to be captured and stored in deep underground sedimentary reservoirs. The sedimentary reservoirs that contain water in the rock matrix provide a more secure CO2 sequestration medium. The injection of carbon dioxide causes a huge increase in the reservoir pore pressure and provokes the subsequent ground uplift. The excessive increase in pore pressure may also cause leakage of carbon dioxide into the potable water layers and to the atmosphere, thus leading to severe global climatic changes. In order to maintain the integrity of the sequestration process, it is crucial to inject a safe quantity of carbon dioxide into the sequestration site. Accordingly, the injection period and the safe values of injection parameters, like flow rate and injection pressure, need to be calculated a priori to ensure that the stored carbon dioxide will not leak into the atmosphere and jeopardize the climate mitigation strategy. To model carbon dioxide injection in reservoirs having a base fluid, such as water, one has to perform a two-phase flow modeling for both the injected and base fluids. In the present investigation, carbon dioxide is injected into Biyadh reservoir, wherein the two-phase flow through the reservoir structure is taken into account. This investigation aims to estimate the safe parameter values for carbon dioxide injection into the Biyadh reservoir, in order to avoid leakage of carbon dioxide through the caprock. In this context, the two cases of a fractured and non-fractured caprock are considered. To ensure a safe sequestration mechanism, the coupled reservoir stability analysis is performed to estimate the safe values of the injection parameters, thus furnishing data for a reliable global climate change mitigation strategy. The obtained results demonstrated that the injection of carbon dioxide has caused a maximum pore pressure increase of 25 MPa and a ground uplift of 35 mm.

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  1. 1.

    During the process of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), carbon dioxide is captured from the large point sources of carbon dioxide like power plants and industries and is then transported to the storage location, where it is stored in deep underground geological reservoirs.

  2. 2.

    The aquifer is underground deep reservoir that contains saline water. When carbon dioxide is injected into the aquifer, the water in the rock matrix is replaced by the injected carbon dioxide.

  3. 3.

    Carbon dioxide changes to its supercritical form when it is exposed to a temperature of 304.25 K and to a pressure of 7.39 MPa.

  4. 4.

    Caprock is a geological layer normally of low permeability that caps the reservoir.

  5. 5.

    Geomechanics is the study of the behavior of the rocks and soil. Geomechanical modeling during carbon dioxide injection into a reservoir will help to evaluate the behavior of the reservoir as the pressure and deformation fields change due to the injection of carbon dioxide.

  6. 6.

    During the Enhance Oil Recovery (EOR) process, carbon dioxide or some other fluid is injected into a low-pressure oil-containing reservoir. With the injection of carbon dioxide, the reservoir pressure will increase that will help in oil production.

  7. 7.

    During the Enhance Coal Bed Methane Recovery (ECBM) process, carbon dioxide is injected into the coal. The injected carbon dioxide is adsorbed onto the coal matrix and thus releases the methane from the rock matrix. The released methane can be produced using a production well.

  8. 8.

    The Satellite-based inferrometry (InSAR) is a new technique used to measure the ground displacement above the reservoir due to either the injection or production process.

  9. 9.

    Carbonate rock is a naturally fractured structure that is formed as a result of the precipitation of the calcium carbonate. In Saudi Arabia, almost 60% of the oil is in the carbonate rocks. The injected carbon dioxide will flow both in the matrix pores and fractures in the carbonate reservoir.

  10. 10.

    In a depleted oil or gas reservoir, the magnitude of the pore pressure is very less due to the excessive production of oil and gas.

  11. 11.

    The sandstone rock is made of the sand-size rock grains. Sandstone rocks have enough permeability and porosity and are normally used for carbon dioxide sequestration.

  12. 12.

    During coupled geomechanical modeling, the flow of the fluid is considered in the reservoir along with the deformation of the reservoir due to the fluid flow.

  13. 13.

    Shale is fine-grained low-permeability rock that normally caps the oil and gas reservoirs. In the case of carbon dioxide injection and sequestration, the shale rock will prevent the leakage of the stored carbon dioxide.

  14. 14.

    The permeability of a rock shows its ability to pass fluids to flow through it. The reservoirs in which carbon dioxide is injected should have sufficient permeability to allow the spread of the injected carbon dioxide along the reservoir.

  15. 15.

    According to the Barton-Bandis Model, the fracture permeability is a function of the effective stresses on the fracture plan. If the effective stresses are decreased, the fracture permeability will increase.

  16. 16.

    The Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion is a mathematical model describing the failure of materials such as rocks due to shear stresses as well as normal stresses.

  17. 17.

    COMSOL and CMG-GEM are multiphysics software that can be used to model the flow of a fluid in the reservoir and also the accompanying deformation of the reservoir.

  18. 18.

    An Equation of State (EOS) is a simplified mathematical model that calculates the phase behavior of the reservoir.

  19. 19.

    During the iterative coupling method, the geomechanical calculations are not performed at the same time as the reservoir flow calculations but are calculated one step behind.

  20. 20.

    A compositional reservoir simulator calculates the Pressure-Volume-Temperature (PVT) properties of oil and gas phases once they have been fitted to an equation of state (EOS), as a mixture of components.

  21. 21.

    According to the Darcy’s law, the velocity at which the injected fluid will flow in the reservoir is dependent on the pressure difference in the direction of flow.

  22. 22.

    The Kozeny-Carman model helps to calculate the value of the reservoir current permeability based on the value of the current porosity.

  23. 23.

    The vertical stress is also known as lithostatic pressure and it is due to the weight of the overburden layers. The carbon dioxide injection pressure should always be less than the lithostatic pressure to avoid the failure of the reservoir structure.

  24. 24.

    During the flow of a wetting and non-wetting phases in a reservoir rock, the path followed by each phase is different. The two phases are distributed based on their wetting characteristics which results in wetting and non-wetting phase-relative permeability curves.

  25. 25.

    Darcy is a unit for permeability. One Darcy is equal to 10−12 m2.


S L :

saturation of phase L

V L :

Darcy’s velocities for phase L, m/s

Q L :

flow rate of phase L, kg/s

P :

pore pressure, Pa

G :

shear modulus, Pa

μ :

fluid viscosity, Pa s

K :

bulk modulus, Pa

K :

permeability, DarcyFootnote 25

* :

reservoir porosity

ε v :

volumetric strain, m/m

ε ij :

strain tensor, m/m

ρ L :

density of phase L, kg/m3

σ ij :

stress tensor, N/m2


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This research was funded by the National Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation (MAARIFAH)—King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) through the Science & Technology Unit at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM)—the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, award number TIC-CCS-1.

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Correspondence to Sikandar Khan.

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Sedimentary rocks are formed through deposition of sediments derived from weathered rocks and biogenic activity.

Carbon sequestration is the process involved in carbon capture and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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Khan, S., Khulief, Y.A. & Al-Shuhail, A. Mitigating climate change via CO2 sequestration into Biyadh reservoir: geomechanical modeling and caprock integrity. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 24, 23–52 (2019).

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  • Global warming
  • Coupled geomechanical modeling
  • CO2 leakage
  • Climate change
  • CO2 sequestration
  • Stability analysis