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Workshop: NeurIPS 2023 Workshop on Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning: Blending New and Existing Knowledge Systems

Inference of CO2 flow patterns--a feasibility study

Abhinav Prakash Gahlot · Huseyin Tuna Erdinc · Rafael Orozco · Ziyi Yin · Felix J. Herrmann


As the global deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology intensifies in the fight against climate change, it becomes increasingly imperative to establish robust monitoring and detection mechanisms for potential underground CO2 leakage, particularly through pre-existing or induced faults in the storage reservoir's seals. While techniques such as history matching and time-lapse seismic monitoring of CO2 storage have been used successfully in tracking the evolution of CO2 plumes in the subsurface, these methods lack principled approaches to characterize uncertainties related to the CO2 plumes' behavior. Inclusion of systematic assessment of uncertainties is essential for risk mitigation for the following reasons: (i) CO2 plume-induced changes are small and seismic data is noisy; (ii) changes between regular and irregular (e.g., caused by leakage) flow patterns are small; and (iii) the reservoir properties that control the flow are strongly heterogeneous and typically only available as distributions. To arrive at a formulation capable of inferring flow patterns for regular and irregular flow from well and seismic data, the performance of conditional normalizing flow will be analyzed on a series of carefully designed numerical experiments. While the inferences presented are preliminary in the context of an early CO2 leakage detection system, the results do indicate that inferences with conditional normalizing flows can produce high-fidelity estimates for CO2 plumes with or without leakage. We are also confident that the inferred uncertainty is reasonable because it correlates well with the observed errors. This uncertainty stems from noise in the seismic data and from the lack of precise knowledge of the reservoir's fluid flow properties.

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