Detecting leakage of brine or CO2 through abandoned wells in a geological sequestration operation using pressure monitoring wells

Juan P. Nogues, Jan M. Nordbotten, Michael A. Celia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


For risk assessment, policy design and GHG emission accounting it is extremely important to know if any CO2 or brine has leaked from a geological sequestration (GS) operation. As such, it is important to understand if it is possible to use certain technologies to detect it. This detection of leakage is one of the most challenging problems associated with GS due to the high uncertainty in the nature and location of leakage pathways. In North America for example millions of legacy oil and gas wells present the possibility of CO2 and brine to leak out of the injection formation. The available information for these potential leaky wells is very limited and the main parameters that control leakage, like permeability of the sealing material are not known. Here we propose to explore the possibility of detecting such leakage by the use of pressure-monitoring wells located in a formation overlying the injection formation. The detection analysis is based on a system of equations that solve for the propagation of a pressure pulse using the superposition principle and an approximation to the well function. We explore the questions of what can be gained by using pressure-monitoring wells and what are the limitations given a specific accuracy threshold of the measuring device. We also try to answer the question of where these monitoring wells should be placed to optimize the objective of a monitoring scheme. We believe these results can ultimately lead to practical design strategies for monitoring schemes, including quantitative estimation of increased probability of leak detection per added observation well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3620-3627
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Procedia
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Energy


  • Abandoned wells
  • Leakage detection


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