Washington, DC - Evaluation-related test drilling at geologic sites in three states that could store a combined 64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - an important component of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology development - has been completed in projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

If the potential of the sites is eventually fulfilled, they could safely and permanently store combined CO2 emissions equivalent to that produced by more than 11 million passenger vehicles annually or from the electricity use of more than 7 million homes for one year, according to Environmental Protection Agency conversion data.

Managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the site characterization well drilling projects occurred in the resource rich Black Warrior Basin in northwest Alabama; the Newark Basin, underlying a heavily industrialized region in parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; and the Rock Springs Uplift in southwestern Wyoming, in proximity to some of the state’s largest sources of CO2 emissions. The projects, in brief:

  • Black Warrior Basin: A strategic partnership of the University of Alabama, the Geological Survey of Alabama, Rice University, Schlumberger Carbon Services and Alabama Power is studying an area with multiple promising CO2 storage reservoirs and seals. Initial estimates indicate 28 billion metric tons of regional CO2 storage could be available for the Basin’s Birmingham-Tuscaloosa corridor, in addition to at least one injection zone that might provide enhanced oil recovery opportunities.
  • Newark Basin: A project team - comprised of Sandia Technologies LLC; Conrad Geoscience Corp.; Schlumberger Carbon Services; Columbia University; Rutgers University; the New York State Museum; and the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory - is focused on characterizing the subsurface in the northern tier of the basin. The team had earlier estimated a storage resource of up to 10 billion metric tons of CO2 storage for the basin; if confirmed, this would equal about 40 years worth of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources located nearby. Researchers will integrate the data collected from the characterization well with results from earlier studies to provide a better understanding of the basin’s storage potential.
  • Rock Springs Uplift: Led by the University of Wyoming’s Carbon Management Institute, the project team - including industry partners Baker Hughes, Geokinectics Inc.; EMTEK; and ExxonMobil - is collecting data from a 12,810-foot-deep stratigraphic test well. Preliminary estimates suggest the targeted formations could store 23 billion metric tons - or 470 years worth of the state’s CO2 emissions. Researchers have also completed a 5-mile-by-5-mile, three-dimensional seismic survey and electromagnetic survey. The integration of data collected from the characterization well and other geophysical surveys will allow numerical simulations to yield much more accurate predictions of CO2 storage resources and potential plume migration.

All of the projects are among those selected by FE in September 2009 to receive about $10 million each in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding designated for projects to increase scientific understanding of promising CO2 storage geologic formations. Data from the projects will provide significant information to NETL’s National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System and help refine regional data and potential storage resources for the Carbon Storage Program.

Establishing effective, safe, permanent and environmentally sound CO2 storage is a key element in moving toward commercial deployment of CCUS technologies, considered by experts as an important option for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions linked to potential climate change.