Using oxygen isotopes to quantitatively assess residual CO2 saturation during the CO2CRC otway stage 2B extension residual saturation test

Sascha Serno, Gareth Johnson, Tara C. LaForce, Jonathan Ennis-King, Ralf R. Haese, Christopher J. Boreham, Lincoln Paterson, Barry M. Freifeld, Paul J. Cook, Dirk Kirste, R. Stuart Haszeldine, Stuart M. V. Gilfillan

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Residual CO2 trapping is a key mechanism of secure CO2 storage, an essential component of the Carbon Capture and Storage technology. Estimating the amount of CO2 that will be residually trapped in a saline aquifer formation remains a significant challenge. Here, we present the first oxygen isotope ratio (δ18O) measurements from a single-well experiment, the CO2CRC Otway 2B Extension, used to estimate levels of residual trapping of CO2. Following the initiation of the drive to residual saturation in the reservoir, reservoir water δ18O decreased, as predicted from the baseline isotope ratios of water and CO2, over a time span of only a few days. The isotope shift in the near-wellbore reservoir water is the result of isotope equilibrium exchange between residual CO2 and water. For the region further away from the well, the isotopic shift in the reservoir water can also be explained by isotopic exchange with mobile CO2 from ahead of the region driven to residual, or continuous isotopic exchange between water and residual CO2 during its back-production, complicating the interpretation of the change in reservoir water δ18O in terms of residual saturation. A small isotopic distinction of the baseline water and CO2 δ18O, together with issues encountered during the field experiment procedure, further prevents the estimation of residual CO2 saturation levels from oxygen isotope changes without significant uncertainty. The similarity of oxygen isotope-based near-wellbore saturation levels and independent estimates based on pulsed neutron logging indicates the potential of using oxygen isotope as an effective inherent tracer for determining residual saturation on a field scale within a few days.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Early online date9 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016


  • residual saturation
  • oxygen isotopes
  • Otway
  • geochemical tracer
  • CO2 storage


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