Carbon capture and storage has been proposed as a viable option to reduce CO 2 emissions. Geological storage of CO 2 where the gas is injected into geological formations for practically indefinite storage, is an integral part of this strategy. Mathematical models and numerical simulations are important tools to better understand the processes taking place underground during and after injection. Due to the very large spatial and temporal scales involved, commercial 3D-based simulators for the petroleum industry quickly become impractical for answering questions related to the long-term fate of injected CO 2 . There is an interest in developing simplified modeling tools that are effective for this type of problem. One approach investigated in recent years is the use of upscaled models based on the assumption of vertical equilibrium (VE). Under this assumption, the simulation problem is essentially reduced from 3D to 2D, allowing much larger models to be considered at the same computational cost. So far, most work on VE models for CO 2 storage has either assumed incompressible CO 2 or only permitted lateral variations in CO 2 density (semi-compressible). In the present work, we propose a way to fully include variable CO 2 density within the VE framework, making it possible to also model vertical density changes. We derive the fine-scale and upscaled equations involved and investigate the resulting effects. In addition, we compare incompressible, semi-compressible, and fully compressible CO 2 flow for some model scenarios, using an in-house, fully-implicit numerical code based on automatic differentiation, implemented using the MATLAB reservoir simulation toolkit.