Permeability alteration induced by drying of brines in porous media
IFP Énergies nouvelles, 1 & 4 avenue de Bois-Préau, 92852 Rueil-Malmaison, France
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Revised: 13 July 2012
Accepted: 16 July 2012
Published online: 23 October 2012
Permeability of reservoir rocks can be strongly altered by salt precipitation induced by drying. Indeed, gas injection in deep saline aquifers leads first to the brine displacement. The liquid saturation decreases near the injection point and reaches a residual water saturation. But at longer time, the water mass transfer to the gas phase by evaporation can become significant and the dissolved salt can precipitate in the porous structure. The solid salts fill the pores and the permeability decreases. Permeability alteration by salting out is a risk of injectivity decline in the context of CO2 geological storage in saline aquifers where high level of gas injection has to be maintained over decades. However, this problem has been poorly investigated. It implies physical processes that are strongly coupled: drying, water and gas flows in the porous structure and precipitation. This work is an experimental investigation aiming at measuring on natural rock samples the permeability alteration induced by convective drying where dry gas is injected through the sample. We show that alteration of permeability is strong and total blockage of the flow is even possible. We also show that the change in porosity due to the solid salt is heterogeneous along the rock samples. A local permeability-porosity relationship has been estimated from the measurements and we could deduce the permeability alteration function of time by modeling the drying dynamic. We show that it starts very early because capillary backflows are extremely efficient in this process to accumulate solid salt near the injection surfaces.
© EDP Sciences, 2012