We are delighted to share the news that the Gulf Coast Carbon Center has received funding for three new projects. These efforts span the breadth of our technical expertise from characterizing new storage units in offshore depleted fields to utilizing new operational tools for safely injecting in onshore brine reservoirs to deploying smart technologies for whole system monitoring. Here’s a preview of our upcoming work and we look forward to keeping you up-to-date on our progress.

Offshore Asessment

CO2 Storage Study TX-LA USAThe aim of this DOE-funded project is to conduct an offshore carbon storage resource assessment of the Gulf of Mexico Texas – Louisiana study area. The project, called TXLA for the region of interest, is headed up by Tip Meckel and Ramón Treviño.

The carbon dioxide storage capacity of depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs will be assessed utilizing existing data such as well logs, records and sample descriptions from existing or plugged and abandoned wells, available seismic surveys, existing core samples, and other available geologic and laboratory data from historical hydrocarbon industry activities. One significant benefit of working in this Gulf Coast region is that rich data is available in the heavily explored portions of the inner continental shelf of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf of Mexico coastal areas.

Using existing data, TXLA will also assess the ability and capacity of saline formations in the region to safely and permanently store nationally-significant amounts of anthropogenic CO2. The study will identify at least one specific site with potential to store at least 30 million tons of CO2 that could be considered for a commercial or integrated demonstration project in the future. The project will also engage the public and other stakeholders for the region through outreach activities to apprise them of the study objectives and results.

Pressure Management

Seyyed Hosseini is the Primary Investigator on a new project called  Pressure Management and Plume Control Strategies through a Brine Extraction Storage Test at the Devine Test Site. Funded by DOE’s Carbon Storage program, which focuses on developing specific subsurface engineering approaches that address research needs critical for advancing carbon capture and storage to commercial scale, the work will be performed in partnership with GE Global Research.

Pressure management through brine extraction can solve many of the problems associated with injection of CO2 for geological storage. Extracted brine can be fed into brine treatment and desalination units for water recovery. The schematic above for the Active Pressure Management strategy (APMS) shows the storage zone where CO2 would be injected. An extraction well that extends to the storage zone would be used to actively pump brine from the storage zone to the surface to control pressure buildup in the storage zone. The brine can be treated at the surface and the treatment residuals would be disposed of into a distinct geologic unit.

The project will test active brine extraction wells, passive pressure relief wells, and combinations of both, to control the pressure buildup in the storage formation. Under each pressure management strategy, a complete life-cycle analysis for brine, along with brine handling strategies, will be developed. The proposed study will include some lab and pre-pilot scaling work to obtain the design parameters for Phase II. The proposed field site is the University of Texas at Austin’s Devine test site.

Intelligent Monitoring

 Alex Sun received funding for the project “Development of a Framework for Data Integration, Assimilation, and Learning for Geological Carbon Sequestration” or DIAL-GCS through DOE’s Carbon Storage program. Because the safe and efficient operation of a carbon sequestration project integrates many sophisticated instruments and produces intensive data, DIAL-GCS takes an intelligent approach to monitoring. Leveraging recent advances in machine learning technologies, complex event processing, reduced-order modeling, and uncertainty quantification, among others, DIAL-GCS will develop and demonstrate a closed-loop monitoring system that will automate geologic carbon sequestration and track carbon dioxide as it flows within storage reservoirs. The system will be validated using both real and simulated data from one of GCCC’s historical field projects.
  • COP20  side event team in Lima Peru. Left to right: Mike Monea, Saskpower: Vanessa Nunez-Lopez BEG: Tim Dixon, IEAGHG: Katherine Romanak, BEG: Paulo Negrais Carneiro Seabra, Petrobras
    COP20 side event team in Lima Peru. Left to right: Mike Monea, Saskpower: Vanessa Nunez-Lopez BEG: Tim Dixon, IEAGHG: Katherine Romanak, BEG: Paulo Negrais Carneiro Seabra, Petrobras

    In Lima, Peru at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP) 20 last week, GCCC’s Vanessa Nunez-Lopez and Katherine Romanak built on CCS momentum by hosting an information booth and an official side event with IEAGHG titled “New large-scale carbon capture and storage projects operating in the Americas.”

    The event showed the viability of CCS as a mitigation tool. Projects in various modes of deployment were highlighted including a summary of USA projects (emphasizing the role of the GCCC), the start of the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Petrobras’ strategies for using CCS to manage the CO2 co-produced with Pre-salt hydrocarbons.

    GCCC also presented information about an initiative for a global collaboration on an offshore demonstration project spearheaded by both the GCCC and the U.S. Department of Energy through the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. IEAGHG summarized the significance of these projects in light of the anticipated climate agreement to be negotiated in Paris in 2015.

    The GCCC/IEAGHG-hosted event was well-attended and well received. One Washington DC-based attendee summarized the impact of the discussions, “I didn’t believe CCS could work but now I see that it can, because you are actually doing it.”

    Presentations given at the side event can be viewed here:

    New Large-scale Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Projects Operating in the Americas
    SaskPower CCS Conference of the Parties
    Petrobras’ Offshore CO2 Management – Pre-salt development management
    USA large scale onshore projects/Global offshore demonstration project

    GCCC’s first technical input to the UNFCCC was in 2011 when we presented research on groundwater protection and monitoring at both a UNFCCC workshop held in Abu Dhabi, UAE and at a side event at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. Both events were designed to inform policy-makers about the latest CCS research relevant to negotiations on whether CCS should be included in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for developing countries. GCCC technical input contributed to inclusion of CCS in the CDM which has set the stage for CCS to be recognized in other UNFCCC mechanisms including the finance mechanism of the Green Climate Fund, which recently reached a total of $10 billion in pledges.

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    Katherine Romanak and Vanessa Nunez Lopez at the UNFCCC climate talks.

     

  • By Tip Meckel and Susan Hovorka

    EOR reservoirs, the Keystone pipeline, and the CO2 pipeline all meet in Texas

    CO2 sources (red), EOR reservoirs (green), Keystone pipeline (blue line), CO2 pipeline (green line) and state offshore lands available for CO2 storage landward of red line converge near Port Arthur.

     

    The potential to increase imports of hydrocarbons from Canada remains attractive. One resource of current interest is the heavy oil typically referred to as the ‘oil sands’ in Alberta. The transport of these oils for upgrading (refining) is being considered via the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, linking Alberta with east Texas.

    Environmental aspects of heavy crude production, transportation, and refining have been discussed in Congress and the media, with the current U.S. administration indicating that approval of the pipeline would only come if it would not ‘significantly exacerbate’ associated greenhouse gas emissions. Debate in Canada related to the production of heavy crude resulted in Shell’s Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project associated with production in Alberta.

    Large-scale replication of a Quest-type project in the Port Arthur region could integrate the interests of a wide variety of stakeholders in CO2 emissions:

    INDUSTRY: refiners and exporters (oil, liquid natural gas);
    STATE GOVERNMENT: Texas General Land Office, Texas Railroad Commission;
    FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory; and
    ACADEMIC RESEARCH: State research institutions including the Jackson School of Geosciences at UT-Austin; Gulf Coast Carbon Center at the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology; Local institutions including Lamar University Commercialization & Innovation Center Entrepreneurship (CICE).
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