Fault seal modelling - the influence of fluid properties on fault sealing capacity in hydrocarbon and CO2 systems

Rūta Karolytė, Gareth Johnson, Graham Yielding, Stuart M.V. Gilfillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Fault seal analysis is a key part of understanding the hydrocarbon trapping mechanisms in the petroleum industry. Fault seal research has also been expanded to CO 2–brine systems for the application to carbon capture and storage (CCS). The wetting properties of rock-forming minerals in the presence of hydrocarbons or CO 2 are a source of uncertainty in the calculations of capillary threshold pressure, which defines the fault sealing capacity. Here, we explore this uncertainty in a comparison study between two fault-sealed fields located in the Otway Basin, SE Australia. The Katnook Field in the Penola Trough is a methane field, while Boggy Creek in Port Campbell contains a high-CO 2–methane mixture. Two industry standard fault seal modelling methods, one based on laboratory measurements of fault samples and the other based on a calibration of a global dataset of known sealing faults, are used to discuss their relative strengths and applicability to the CO 2 storage context. We identify a range of interfacial tensions and contact angle values in the hydrocarbon–water system under the conditions assumed by the second method. Based on this, the uncertainty related to the spread in fluid properties was determined to be 24% of the calculated threshold capillary pressure value.We propose a methodology of threshold capillary pressure conversion from hydrocarbons–brine to the CO 2–brine system, using an input of appropriate interfacial tension and contact angle under reservoir conditions. The method can be used for any fluid system where fluid properties are defined by these two parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
JournalPetroleum Geoscience
Issue number3
Early online date8 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • fault seal
  • hydrocarbons
  • CO2
  • interfacial tension
  • wettability
  • contact angle
  • fluid properties
  • Otway Basin


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