Underground energy-related product storage and sequestration: site characterization, risk analysis and monitoring

Richard A. Schultz, Sherilyn Williams-Stroud, Birgit Horváth, John Wickens, Heike Bernhardt, Wenzhuo Cao, Paolo Capuano, Thomas A. Dewers, Raven A. Goswick, Qinghua Lei, Mark McClure, Umesh Prasad, Brandon A. Schwartz, Haitao Yu, Samuel Voegeli, Qi Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This paper presents a high-level overview of site characterization, risk analysis and monitoring priorities for underground energy-related product storage or sequestration facilities. The siting of an underground storage or sequestration facility depends on several important factors beginning with the area of review. Collection of all existing and available records and data from within the rock volume, including potential vulnerabilities such as prior containment issues, proximity to infrastructure and/or population centres, must be evaluated. Baselining of natural processes before storage or sequestration operations begin provides the basis for assessing the effects of storage or sequestration on the surroundings. These initial investigations include geological, geophysical and geochemical analyses of the suitability of the geological host rock and environs for storage or sequestration. A risk analysis identifies and evaluates threats and hazards, the potential impact should they develop into unwanted circumstances or events and the consequences to the facility should any of them occur. This forms the basis for framing effective mitigation measures. A comprehensive monitoring programme that may include downhole well surveillance, observation wells, geochemical sampling and well testing ensures that the facility operates as designed and that unforeseen issues, such as product migration or loss of integrity, can be identified and mitigated. In addition to these technical issues, human factors and public perception of a project are a critical part of the site characterization, construction and operational phases of a project. Despite differences between underground storage and sequestration, the characterization, risk analysis and monitoring approaches that were developed for underground natural gas storage or for carbon dioxide sequestration could be used for underground storage or sequestration of any type of energy-related product. Recommendations from this work include: (1) develop an industry-standard evaluation protocol (workflow) for the evaluation of salt beds, saline aquifers, depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, underground mines and cased wellbores for potential underground storage or sequestration development beyond those in use today; and (2) develop an industry-wide collaborative process whereby incident and near-miss data related to underground storage or sequestration operations can be reported, documented and shared for use in refining risk analysis modelling.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnabling Secure Subsurface Storage in Future Energy Systems
EditorsJ.M. Miocic, N. Heinemann, K. Edlmann, J. Alcalde, R.A. Schultz
PublisherGeological Society
ISBN (Print)9781786205766
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameGeological Society, London, Special Publications
PublisherGeological Society of London
ISSN (Print)0305-8719


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