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.
  • 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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  • By Tip Meckel

    Many nations recognize that immense potential for geologic storage of carbon dioxide exists in subsea sites on the continental shelf. Indeed, every continent in the world is bordered by passive marine margins suitable for storage. The geology does not stop at the shoreline, and the deep subsurface of those offshore margins is highly suitable for storage. An added attraction of offshore storage is co-location of carbon sources and sinks, as most large industrial emissions sources occur in coastal regions. Compared to onshore sites, which are owned by private entities, offshore territories are controlled by government gencies, thus simplifying regulation and permitting. In addition, potential risks to shallow sources of drinking water and human health and safety are reduced in offshore settings. Such benefits have the potential to resonate with many nations, in particular, industrialized countries that must participate in climate change mitigation for any meaningful impact to occur.

    But, working in an offshore environment presents challenges. Costs of siting, development, and monitoring are not insignificant, and regulation of risk and liability may not be well established in all nations. 
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