Application of mud gas data and leakage phenomena to evaluate seal integrity of potential CO2 storage sites: a study of chalk structures in the Danish Central Graben, North Sea

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Depleted chalk oilfields and chalk structures in the Danish Central Graben, North Sea, are potential CO 2 storage sites. In most of these fields, the main reservoir is the Upper Cretaceous – Danian Chalk Group and the Eocene – Miocene mudstones of the Horda and Lark Formations constitute the primary seal. In a few fields, the reservoir is composed of the Lower Cretaceous Tuxen and Sola Formations. Here the main seal is assumed to be the Chalk Group which however has poor gas sealing characteristics; the Horda and Lark Formations constitute an efficient secondary seal although they are quite high in the section. This study documents a workflow that may help to evaluate the seal integrity of the structures from an integration of mud gas data from wells with seismic data. Mud gas data provide detailed information about the distribution and types of gas (biogenic or thermogenic) throughout the seal section and overburden. The presence of higher carbon number gases (C 3–C 5, propane to pentane) in the seal indicates migration of thermogenic gas into the thermally immature sealing mudstones; whereas the dominance of C 1 (methane) and partly C 2 (ethane) likely reflects the presence of in situ generated biogenic gas in the mudstones, thus indicating that there are no seal integrity issues. The vertical thermogenic gas migration front has been determined, and a “traffic light” indicator system has been used for seal integrity evaluation. Where no or minor migration of thermogenic gas into the primary seal has occurred and a primary seal >30 m thick is present, the seal is considered to have good matrix seal integrity (green). If some significant thermogenic gas migration has occurred into the primary seal but more than 30 m of primary seal is present above the thermogenic gas migration front, the seal integrity is reduced (yellow). In structures where thermogenic gas migration is recorded through the primary seal and into the overburden, seal integrity is considered to be poor (red). In areas where significant leakage of thermogenic gas has occurred into the seal, high density, low porosity carbonate beds frequently occur encapsulated within the sealing mudstones and are interpreted to be composed of methane-derived authigenic carbonates (MDACs). Seismic data show that there is a convincing correlation between leakage as indicated from mud gas data and the presence of vertical wipe-out zones (gas chimneys), bright zones (gas-charged sediments or MDACs), and depressions (pockmarks). In general, potential CO 2 storage sites in the study area in tectonically inverted structures show good seal integrity, but this may locally be reduced and require additional analyses. Storage sites associated with salt diapirs generally show poor seal integrity and are likely to be poor candidates for CO 2 storage. In combination, mud gas and seismic data are therefore powerful tools to investigate (palaeo-) leakage phenomena and provide support for seal integrity evaluation at local to regional scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-75
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Petroleum Geology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • CO storage
  • Danish Central Graben
  • depleted Chalk Group fields
  • migration
  • Mud gas
  • North Sea
  • pockmarks
  • seal integrity
  • seismic leakage phenomena
  • thermogenic gas

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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