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Subsidence associated with oil extraction, measured from time series analysis of Sentinel-1 data: case study of the Patos-Marinza oil field, Albania

Abstract : The Patos-Marinza oil field in central Albania (40.71 • N, 19.61 • E), operated since 1939, is one of the largest onshore oil fields in Europe. More than 7 million oil barrels are extracted every year from the Messinian sandstone formations of the Durres Basin in the Albanian Peri-Adriatic Depression by the Bankers Petroleum Ltd. (here-after Bankers), which has been operating the field since 2004. In this study, we take advantage of the new Sentinel-1 radar images acquired every 6 to 12 d over Albania to measure the surface displacement in the Myzeqeja plain and in the Patos-Marinza oil field in particular. Images from two ascending and descending tracks covering the area are processed through a radar interferometry (InSAR) time series analysis over the 2014 to 2018 time span, providing consistent average line-of-sight (LOS) velocity maps and displacement time series. The regional deformation field exhibits a slow subsidence of the entire basin relative to the highlands (at rates of 2.5 mm yr −1) that we interpret as a combination of natural and human-induced compaction. This broad picture is complicated by a very strong local subsidence signal with rates as high as 15 mm yr −1 that spatially correlates with the Patos-Marinza oil field and is maximal in the zone holding most of the operating wells, where enhanced oil recovery techniques are used. The striking spatial correlation between the maximum subsidence area and the active wells, as seen from optical images, argues in favor of surface deformation induced by oil extraction. This deformation is well reproduced by elastic models mimicking the basin and reservoir compaction using planar negative tensile (closing) dislocations. Such modeling provides a first-order estimation of the volumetric deflation rate in the oil reservoir (∼ 0.2 Mm 3 yr −1), and it suggests that concurrent injection activity has been conducted in the central part of the field where small uplift is observed. Our new InSAR-derived evidence of significant surface strain associated with the oil field operations raises the question of the potential impact of these operations on the local seismicity. A slight increase in the nearby released seismic moment rate seems to be observed since 2009, shortly after the oil field reactivation. However, without further seismological monitoring of the area and longer InSAR time series, this question will remain open.
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Marianne Métois, Mouna Benjelloun, Cécile Lasserre, Raphaël Grandin, Laurie Barrier, et al.. Subsidence associated with oil extraction, measured from time series analysis of Sentinel-1 data: case study of the Patos-Marinza oil field, Albania. Solid Earth, European Geosciences Union, 2020, 11 (2), pp.363-378. ⟨10.5194/se-11-363-2020⟩. ⟨hal-03000150⟩

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