Effect of Computational Schemes on Coupled Flow and Geo-Mechanical Modeling of CO2 Leakage through a Compromised Well

Journal Article
Computation, vol. 8, iss. 4, pp. 98, 2020
Mohammad Islam, Nicolas Huerta, Robert Dilmore
Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) describes a set of technically viable processes to separate carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial byproduct streams and inject it into deep geologic formations for long-term storage. Legacy wells located within the spatial domain of new injection and production activities represent potential pathways for fluids (i.e., CO2 and aqueous phase) to leak through compromised components (e.g., through fractures or micro-annulus pathways). The finite element (FE) method is a well-established numerical approach to simulate the coupling between multi-phase fluid flow and solid phase deformation interactions that occur in a compromised well system. We assumed the spatial domain consists of a three-phases system: a solid, liquid, and gas phase. For flow in the two fluids phases, we considered two sets of primary variables: the first considering capillary pressure and gas pressure (PP) scheme, and the second considering liquid pressure and gas saturation (PS) scheme. Fluid phases were coupled with the solid phase using the full coupling (i.e., monolithic coupling) and iterative coupling (i.e., sequential coupling) approaches. The challenge of achieving numerical stability in the coupled formulation in heterogeneous media was addressed using the mass lumping and the upwinding techniques. Numerical results were compared with three benchmark problems to assess the performance of coupled FE solutions: 1D Terzaghi’s consolidation, Liakopoulos experiments, and the Kueper and Frind experiments. We found good agreement between our results and the three benchmark problems. For the Kueper and Frind test, the PP scheme successfully captured the observed experimental response of the non-aqueous phase infiltration, in contrast to the PS scheme. These exercises demonstrate the importance of fluid phase primary variable selection for heterogeneous porous media. We then applied the developed model to the hypothetical case of leakage along a compromised well representing a heterogeneous media. Considering the mass lumping and the upwinding techniques, both the monotonic and the sequential coupling provided identical results, but mass lumping was needed to avoid numerical instabilities in the sequential coupling. Additionally, in the monolithic coupling, the magnitude of primary variables in the coupled solution without mass lumping and the upwinding is higher, which is essential for the risk-based analyses.