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DSSS: Leakage Along Old Wells with Applications to CO2 Sequestration and Methane Emissions


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Professor Michael Celia is the Theodora Shelton Pitney Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University, where he served as Department Chair for the CEE Department from 2005 to 2011.  He is currently Director of the Program in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources.  Prof. Celia received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lafayette College in 1978, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University in 1979, and a PhD from Princeton in 1983.  In 1985 he joined the faculty of M.I.T., and returned to Princeton to join the Civil Engineering faculty in 1989.  He served for 10 years as editor of the journal Advances in Water Resources, is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and recipient of the 2005 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Award.  He was also the 2008 Darcy Lecturer for the National Ground Water Association, the 2010 Pioneers in Groundwater lecturer for the American Society of Civil Engineers, and received the 2012 Hydrology Days Award and the 2014 Honorary Membership Award from the International Society for Porous Media (Interpore).   He has also been named as the 2015 Argyris Visiting Professor at the University of Stuttgart.


Many millions of oil and gas wells have been drilled in North America over the past 150 years.  Most of those wells are abandoned, and many are located in sedimentary basins identified as good choices for geological sequestration of CO2.  Because geological sequestration of CO2 will involve injection of massive amounts of captured CO2, the impact of these old wells on leakage potential must be determined.  The number of wells involved and the overall scale of the problem necessitate new computational approaches in order to perform a quantitative risk assessment.  Within this risk assessment framework, the highest uncertainty is associated with the effective permeability of these old wells.  To reduce this uncertainty, we have performed field experiments involving both downhole measurements associated with re-entering old wells, and surface measurements focused on direct determination of leakage rates from existing wells.  The latter measurements provide first-of-a-kind data on methane fluxes to the atmosphere due to leakage along old wells.  These methane measurements provide evidence of a missing source of methane emissions from current emission inventories.  They also allow us to infer the effective permeability of the leaky wells.  With this permeability information, we can complete the quantitative risk assessment for CO2 sequestration.  


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