Effects of Formation-Water Salinity, Formation Pressure, Gas Composition, and Gas-Flow Rate on Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in Coal Formations

Presented at SPE J. 22 (05): 1530–1541.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in coal seams combines CO2 storage with enhancing methane (CH4) recovery. The efficiency of CO2 sequestration depends on the coal-formation properties and the operating conditions. This study investigated the effects of the sodium chloride (NaCl) salinity of coal-seam water, injection flow rate, injected-gas composition, and CO2 state (formation pressure) on CO2 sequestration in coal formations. Coreflood tests were conducted on nine coal cores to simulate the injection of CO2 into coal formations. The change in the effective water/coal permeability after CO2 injection was measured. A commercial simulator was used to match the pressure drop across the core from the experimental study by adjusting the relative permeability curves. Moreover, permeability dynamic measurements were conducted to estimate the absolute permeability reduction caused by coal swelling. The effective water permeability in the tested coal decreased during CO2 injection because of its adsorption onto the coal surface, coupled with a reduction in the relative water permeability. As salt concentration increased, the change in the pressure drop across the core increased, but this effect decreased as the formation pressure increased. Higher formation pressure and lower nitrogen (N2) concentrations led to further permeability reduction as a result of the higher CO2 adsorption onto the coal surface. Furthermore, as the injection flow rate increased, the contact time of CO2 at the coal surface decreased. Hence, the CO2 adsorption to the coal matrix decreased, and thus the difference in the effective water permeability slightly decreased. CO2 injectivity in fully water-saturated formations increased initially as the gas relative permeability increased, then the injectivity decreased as a result of matrix swelling and absolute permeability reduction. Moreover, the water salinity in coal formations decreased the overall gas relative permeability and increased the water relative permeability. Similar behavior occurred in the presence of N2. It is derived from these observations that the injection of CO2 into highly volatile bituminous coal seams for CO2 sequestration purpose is more efficient as the salt concentration increases, especially at high injection pressures.