CO2 injection in subsurface geological formations (e.g. deep saline aquifers) causes pressure perturbations over a large area surrounding the injection well. Observation wells are widely considered in geologic CO2 storage (GCS) projects where the pressure perturbation induced by CO2 injection is measured. In this work, we use analytical and numerical modeling tools along with field data to examine the pressure behavior in GCS projects before and after CO2 arrival at an observation well. Prior to CO2 arrival, a baseline pressure trend is established which corresponds to single-phase brine flow across the observation well (approximated by Theis solution). Therefore, analysis of early-time pressure data is straightforward, provides the single-phase flow characteristics (mobility and storativity), and helps establishing a baseline pressure change that can be extended beyond the single-phase flow period at the observation well.
Upon CO2 arrival, a departure from this baseline trend is expected. For the pressure to detect the CO2 arrival at an observation well, the departure from baseline pressure behavior must be significant and well above the background noise levels. We use existing analytical models to determine the strength of the expected pressure departure signal from the baseline trend upon CO2 arrival. The strength of the expected pressure departure is found to be directly proportional to the mobility ratio. Accordingly, we establish a criterion to determine whether the pressure at an observation well can detect the CO2 arrival. We present an analysis approach through application to synthetic and field data and show the characteristic pressure behavior before and after CO2 arrival. We show that while generally the pressure can be either above or below the expected baseline pressure trend, it would be likely above the baseline upon CO2 arrival. This is because the mobility ratio becomes less than unity after CO2 arrival. We show that depending on the reservoir characteristics, changes in the pressure trend may or may not be sufficient to detect the CO2 arrival.