Impact of deformation bands on fault-related fluid flow in field-scale simulations
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Subsurface storage of CO2 is predicted to rise exponentially in response to the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Large-scale CO2 injections into the subsurface require understanding of the potential for fluid flow through faults to mitigate risk of leakage. Here, we study how to obtain effective permeability of deformation bands in the damage zone of faults. Deformation bands are relatively small, low permeability features that can have a significant effect on flow dynamics, however, the discrepancy of scales is a challenge for field-scale simulation. A new analytical upscaling model is proposed in order to overcome some of the shortcomings of conventional upscaling approaches for heterogeneous porous media. The new model captures the fine-scale impact of deformation bands on fluid flow in the near-fault region, and can be derived from knowledge of large-scale fault properties. To test the accuracy of the model it is compared to fine-scale numerical simulations that explicitly include individual deformation bands. For a wide range of different stochastically generated deformation bands networks, the upscaling model shows improved estimate of effective permeability compared to conventional upscaling approaches. By applying the upscaling model to a full-field simulation of the Smeaheia storage site in the North Sea, we show that deformation bands with a permeability contrast higher than three orders of magnitude may act as an extra layer of protection from fluid flow through faults.