Workshop on Induced Seismicity due to Fluid Injection/Production from Energy-Related Applications

Abou-Sayed, A.S. Et al
Presented at Stanford University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, February 4, 2010



Geothermal energy, carbon sequestration, and enhanced oil and gas recovery have a clear role in U.S. energy policy, both in securing cost-effective energy and reducing atmospheric CO2 accumulations. Recent publicity surrounding induced seismicity at several geothermal and oil and gas sites points out the need to develop improved standards and practices to avoid issues that may unduly inhibit or stop the above technologies from fulfilling their full potential. It is critical that policy makers and the general community be assured that EGS, CO2 sequestration, enhanced oil/gas recovery, and other technologies relying on fluid injections, will be designed to reduce induced seismicity to an acceptable level, and be developed in a safe and cost-effective manner. Induced seismicity is not new—it has occurred as part of many different energy and industrial applications (reservoir impoundment, mining, oil recovery, construction, waste disposal, conventional geothermal). With proper study/research and engineering controls, induced seismicity should eventually allow safe and cost- effective implementation of any of these technologies. In addition, microseismicity is now being used as a remote sensing tool for understanding and measuring the success of injecting fluid into the subsurface in a variety of applications, including the enhancement of formation permeability through fracture creation/reactivation, tracking fluid migration and storage, and physics associated with stress redistribution. This potential problem was envisaged in 2004 following observed seismicity at several EGS sites, a study was implemented by DOE to produce a white paper and a protocol (Majer et al 2008) to help potential investors. Recently, however, there have been a significant number of adverse comments by the press regarding induced seismicity which could adversely affect the development of the energy sector in the USA. Therefore, in order to identify critical technology and research that was necessary not only to make fluid injections safe, but an economic asset, DOE organized a series of workshops. The first workshop was held on February 4, 2010, at Stanford University. A second workshop will be held in mid-2010 to address the critical elements of a “best practices/protocol” that industry could use as a guide to move forward with safe implementation of fluid injections/production for energy-related applications, i.e., a risk mitigation plan, and specific recommendations for industry to follow.