Fines migration during CO2 injection: Experimental results interpreted using surface forces
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The South West Hub project is one of the Australian Flagship Carbon Capture and Storage projects located in the south-west of Western Australia. To evaluate the injectivity potential during the forthcoming full-scale CO2 injection, we conducted three core-flooding experiments using reservoir core plugs from the well Harvey-1. We aimed to investigate whether the injection of CO2 leads to fines migration and permeability reduction due to the relatively high kaolinite content (up to 13%) in the injection interval of the target formation (i.e. the Wonnerup Member of the Lesueur Formation). We imaged the core samples before flooding to verify the presence of kaolinite at the pore-scale using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). We also examined the pore network of the core plugs before and after the core-flooding experiments using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Moreover, to gain a better understanding of any kaolinite fines migration, we delineated surface force using two models based on Derjaguin−Landau−Verwey−Overbeek (denoted by DLVO) theory coupled hydrodynamic force: (1) sphere/flat model representing interaction between kaolinite/quartz, and (2) flat/flat model representing interaction between kaolinite/kaolinite. Our core-flooding experimental results showed that CO2/brine injection triggered moderate to significant reduction in the permeability of the core samples with a negligible porosity change. NMR measurements supported the core-flooding results, suggesting that the relatively large pores disappeared in favour of a higher proportion of the medium to small pores after flooding. The DLVO calculations showed that some kaolinite particles probably lifted off and detached from neighbouring kaolinite particles rather than quartz grains. Moreover, the modelling results showed that the kaolinite fines migration would not occur under normal reservoir multiphase flow conditions. This is not because of the low hydrodynamic force. It is rather because the geometries of the particles dominate their interplay. Overall, both of the experimental and analytical modelling results point to the fines migration to be the most likely cause of the permeability impairment observed during core-flooding experiments.
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