Effect of Well Orientation (Vertical vs. Horizontal) and Well Length on the Injection of CO2 in Deep Saline Aquifers

Roland Okwen, Mark Stewart, Jeffrey Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Simulations of CO2 injection into confined saline aquifers were conducted for both vertical and horizontal injection wells. The metrics used in quantifying the performances of different injection scenarios included changes in pressure near the injection well, mass of CO2 dissolved into brine (solubility trapping), and storage efficiency, all evaluated with an assumed injection period of 50 years. Metrics were quantified as functions of well length, well orientation, CO2 injection rate, and formation anisotropy (ratio of vertical to horizontal conductivity). When equal well lengths are compared, there is not a significant difference between the predicted performances of horizontal and vertical wells. However, the length of a horizontal well may exceed the length of a vertical well because the length of the horizontal well is not constrained to the vertical thickness of the geologic formation. Simulations show that, as the length of the horizontal well is allowed to increase, the geologic formation can receive a significantly higher CO2 injection rate without exceeding a maximum allowable pressure. This result is observed in both isotropic and anisotropic formations, and suggests that horizontal wells may be advantageous under pressure-limited conditions. However, the use of horizontal wells does not significantly improve the storage efficiency, and under strongly anisotropic conditions, a vertical well provides higher storage efficiency than a horizontal well. We conclude that horizontal wells may be preferable if the goal is to sequester a large amount of CO2 in a short period of time, but do not offer a significant advantage in terms of long-term capacity of a potential repository.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-232
Number of pages14
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • CCS
  • Carbon capture
  • Climate change
  • ECO2N
  • Global warming
  • Saline aquifer
  • Sequestration
  • TOUGH2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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