On Friday 9 February 2024, Catherine Lagneau, BRGM Chair and CEO, and Pierre-Marie Abadie, Director General of Andra, signed a new 5-year partnership agreement at Andra's offices in Châtenay-Malabry.

On Friday 9 February 2024, Catherine Lagneau, BRGM Chair and CEO, and Pierre-Marie Abadie, Director General of Andra, signed a new 5-year partnership agreement at Andra's offices in Châtenay-Malabry.

© Andra

As long-standing partners in the geosciences, Andra and BRGM have set themselves the goal of digitally transforming knowledge of geological systems and building a digital twin of the subsurface.

On 9 February 2024 in Châtenay-Malabry, Catherine Lagneau, BRGM Chair and CEO, and Pierre-Marie Abadie, Director General of Andra, signed a new 5-year partnership agreement.

4 strategic fields for 5 years of collaboration

This new agreement covers 4 major fields:

  • geology, geodynamics and hydrogeology,
  • high-performance numerical simulation, 
  • the digital twin, data processing and artificial intelligence,
  • geochemistry.

In 2025-2026, BRGM will support Andra’s drilling of about a hundred boreholes for the Cigéo project, aimed at consolidating the hydrogeological model of the Barrois limestone formations:  the data collected from these boreholes will help to clarify our knowledge and understanding of water flows in the geological formation on which the Cigéo surface facilities will be built.

The collaboration will also prepare the methods and tools needed to characterise the geological environment during the excavation of Cigéo's underground facilities (acquisition of geophysical data, recurrent analyses, core sampling, etc.) without hampering operational conditions during the building of the structures.

BRGM and Andra also wish to pool their knowledge of models of the geological formations of the central and eastern Paris Basin, in line with the work co-directed by BRGM on the French Geological Reference (RGF) and the national subsurface programme.

This area focuses on the continued development of means of representing the evolution of geological environments at their interface with industrial activities. Numerical simulations are key tools for assessing and predicting the operation and multi-physical evolution (water, gas, mechanics, etc.) of these multi-medium systems (geological formations, cementitious materials, steel, etc.) over large time and space scales. 

These tools will enable the Cigéo project team to check that the behaviour and evolution of the storage facilities are consistent with those expected, while they will be used by BRGM to assess, for example, the long-term behaviour of CO2 during storage in deep saline aquifers or for hydrothermal modelling of geothermal systems.

Simulation tools need to be continuously improved and developed to meet the increasing demands for representation of all processes and components, and for robust results and performance in terms of computing time.

This area covers the creation of tools for developing and deploying digital twins of complex systems such as a storage facility or, more broadly, a complex geological environment. There are numerous applications that will enhance the monitoring and observation of the components of the industrial project, such as the evolution of underground structures and their geological environment and also the interpretation of data from experiments or demonstrator facilities.

BRGM and Andra aim to develop joint tools that include the specific characteristics of industrial projects in geological environments.

The main themes of interest are the chemistry of water in geological formations and materials used in industrial facilities (for example, the use of clay for sealing in Cigéo) in natural contexts and at interfaces with the atmosphere and biosphere. This area also focuses on the fate of metals and chemical toxins in natural and industrial environments. In particular, BRGM and Andra have long developed a thermodynamic database tailored to storage, which can now be used to model the chemical interactions that occur in such an environment.

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