Semianalytical solution for CO2 leakage through an abandoned well

Jan Martin Nordbotten, Michael Anthony Celia, Stefan Bachu, Helge K. Dahle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

277 Scopus citations


Capture and subsequent injection of carbon dioxide into deep geological formations is being considered as a means to reduce anthropogenic emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere. If such a strategy is to be successful, the injected CO2 must remain within the injection formation for long periods of time, at least several hundred years. Because mature continental sedimentary basins have a century-long history of oil and gas exploration and production, they are characterized by large numbers of existing oil and gas wells. For example, more than 1 million such wells have been drilled in the state of Texas in the United States. These existing wells represent potential leakage pathways for injected CO2. To analyze leakage potential, modeling tools are needed that predict leakage rates and patterns in systems with injection and potentially leaky wells. A new semianalytical solution framework allows simple and efficient prediction of leakage rates for the case of injection of supercritical CO2 into a brine-saturated deep aquifer. The solution predicts the extent of the injected CO2 plume, provides leakage rates through an abandoned well located at an arbitrary distance from the injection well, and estimates the CO2 plume extent in the overlying aquifer into which the fluid leaks. Comparison to results from a numerical multiphase flow simulator show excellent agreement. Example calculations show the importance of outer boundary conditions, the influence of both density and viscosity contrasts in the resulting solutions, and the potential importance of local upconing around the leaky well. While several important limiting assumptions are required, the new semianalytical solution provides a simple and efficient procedure for estimation of CO2 leakage for problems involving one injection well, one leaky well, and multiple aquifers separated by impermeable aquitards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-611
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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