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August 18-20, 2015   DOE/NETL Carbon Storage R&D Project Review Meeting. Susan Hovorka, Seyyed Hossieni, and Changbing Yang participated in a panel discussion on large-scale sequestration projects highlighting learnings from Cranfield. Katherine Romanak was on a panel discussing the IEAGHG Monitoring Network. Alex Sun presented "Pressure-based Inversion and Assimilation System (PIDAS) for CO2 Leakage Detection." Vanessa Nunez-Lopez presented "Life cycle analysis of CO2-EOR for Net Carbon Negative Oil (NCNO) Classification." Seyyed Hosseini presented "Enhanced Analytical Simulation Tool for CO2 Storage Capacity and Uncertainty Quantification." Pittsburgh, PA
August 17, 2014    Congratulations to Alex Sun, whose project “Development of a Framework for Data Integration, Assimilation, and Learning for Geological Carbon Sequestration (DIAL-GCS)” has been selected by the Department of Energy to receive funding through its Carbon Storage Program. The program advances the development of validation technologies that enable safe, cost-effective permanent geological carbon storage. DIAL-GCS will develop an intelligence monitoring system for automating GCS by allowing for the assimilation and analysis of heterogeneous data in a timely manner. The system’s capabilities will be assessed using data from the SECARB Stacked Storage project at Cranfield, MS.
June 22, 2015   U.S. and China to Collaborate on CCS
Officials from China and the United States met in Washington D.C. as part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), which builds on the historic announcement last November in which the two countries pledged to work together to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. During the S&ED's climate change panel, Secretary of State John Kerry described enormous opportunities for the collaboration, and made special mention of carbon capture and storage.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters that the U.S. and China would cooperate with "unparalleled scientific activity" to develop CCS in saline aquifers. The Gulf Coast Carbon Center's significant expertise, both in the field and in the lab, has been tapped for this effort. At the meeting, BEG Director Scott Tinker, representing the GCCC, signed a Memorandum of Understanding of collaboration and knowledge sharing with the UK-China (Guangdong) CCUS Centre, Southern Company, and Clean Air Task Force.

Guangdong's integrated carbon capture and offshore storage project proposes to capture post-combustion CO2 from China Resources Power's Haifeng coal fired power plant for offshore geologic storage and enhanced oil recovery in China National Offshore Oil Company's oil and gas fields in the Pearl River Mouth Basin. Geological carbon storage in the Texas offshore, championed by GCCC researchers, is proposed as a counter-facing project for China's offshore project.

Scott Tinker (seated, second from right) with representatives of the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group. Image Credit: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
June 16, 2015   GCCC was delighted to welcome members of UT's Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering group including Matt Balhoff, Chung Huh, Paul Bommer, Jostine Ho, and Shayen Tvaossoli to our weekly meeting. Matt Balhoff presented new work on pH triggered gelant for sealing microannuli in wellbore cement. Potential collaborations were discussed. Austin, TX

June 15-19, 2015   2015 CSLF Mid-Year Meeting and Technology Workshop - Katherine Romanak attended the workshop hosted by SaskPower. The workshop included field trips to SaskPower's Boundary Dam CCS facility that is currently storing 1 million tonnes of anthropogenically-produced CO2 annually as well as their carbon capture test facility at Shand Station. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

The absence of smoke at the second smokestack from the left at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam project is evidence of CCS.

Katherine Romanak (center) standing next to the pipe carrying CO2 away from the capture facility at the Boundary Dam power plant
June 10-12, 2015   GCCC staff attended the IEAGHG 10th Monitoring Network Meeting hosted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Susan Hovorka and Katherine Romank were on the steering committee for the meeting. Changbing Yang with co-authors Jesús Delgado, Sreekar Marpu, Narciso Guzman, and Straun Phillips presented the poster "Fiber Optic Distributed Sensors for Carbon Dioxide Detection." Katherine Romanak chaired a session on Monitoring Tool Development and presented "Scene Setting – the Detection-Attribution-Quantification Cycle." Susan Hovorka chaired a session on Monitoring Demonstration Projects and gave a talk on Post Closure Monitoring at Cranfield. She also gave a talk "Developing Monitoring Programmes for Large-Scale Projects: the Experience from CO2 EOR." Susan also presented Seyyed Hosseini's talk, "Pressure Monitoring, Field Observations and Interpretation Challenges." Berkeley, CA

IEAGHG workshop attendees work on monitoring design activity developed by Sue Hovorka
June 8, 2015   GCCC researchers Changbing Yang, Susan Hovorka, Ramón Treviño, and Jesus Delgado-Alonso have just published a new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology titled "An Integrated Framework for Assessing Impacts of CO2 Leakage on Groundwater Quality and Monitoring-Network Efficiency: Case Study at a CO2-EOR Site." This study presents a method for combining site characterization, laboratory experiments, single-well push-pull tests, and reactive transport modeling to assess potential impacts of CO2 leakage on groundwater quality and leakage detection ability of a groundwater monitoring network in a potable aquifer at a CO2 enhanced oil recovery site.
June 6, 2015   GCCC was delighted to host visitors from Masaryk University including Pavla Filipská, Martin Jirušek, and Jan Osicka, Ph.D.who are working on means for developing CCS outreach mechanisms and technical transfer. Austin, TX

June 4, 2015   GCCC researcher Akand Islam has released an Android app called CO2 Thermo that quickly provides CO2 thermophysical properties. This app calculates essential thermodynamic properties of CO2 including solubility of CO2 in water (g/L), compressibility factor, density (kg/m3), enthalpy (KJ/Kg), internal energy (KJ/Kg), entropy (KJ/Kg/K), Helmohltz energy (KJ/Kg), and Gibbs Free Energy (KJ/Kg) for given temperature (C) and pressure (bar). Audiences for this app are academic educators and students in the fields of chemical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering; physics; chemistry; and geoscience, as well as researchers and professionals working in the fields of CO2 sequestration, CO2 based geothermal energy, up- and mid-stream oil and gas operations, and other applications where CO2 is used as a working fluid. Please click here to download the app.

June 3, 2015   Big congratulations to JP Nicot for his acceptance as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. A GSA Fellowship is an honor bestowed on the best of in the geosciences profession once per year at the spring GSA Council meeting and is recognized at our yearly Annual Meeting. GSA members are elected to Fellowship in recognition of distinguished contributions to the geosciences.
June 2, 2015   Congratulations to a number of GCCC staff who received recent promotions. JP Nicot was promoted to Senior Research Scientist. Changbing Yang and Katherine Romanak were promoted to Research Scientists, as was GCCC collaborator Tongwei Zhang. We salute you for your excellent contributions not just to the Gulf Coast Carbon Center, but to The University of Texas at Austin, and the CCS community.

May 22, 2015   Congratulations to our Graduates!

Michael Patson received a Masters degree for his thesis titled "The behavior of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) at geological sequestration sites." This research project was funded by the GCCC and the results help understand how DOC in shallow groundwater may be affected in the event of small or large-scale CO2 leakage from CO2 sequestration sites. Michael is currently working as a geologist at Cimarex Energy in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Francis Mulcahy completed requirements for a Masters degree with his thesis, "Use of High Resolution 3D Seismic Data to Evaluate Quaternary Valley Evolution History during Transgression, Offshore San Luis Pass, Gulf of Mexico," working with data collected by the GCCC's state-of-the-art P-cable as part of the Offshore Miocene project. Francis is now employed at Statoil, Houston working on petroleum exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prisca Ogbuabuo received her Masters degree for her thesis, "The Role of Methane in Limiting CO2 EOR: Case Study of Offshore Gulf of Mexico Reservoirs." Prisca helped to develop a best management practices manual for sub-seabed geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration on the U.S. outer continental shelf through analysis of (1) the applicability of existing regulations to offshore sub-seabed geologic sequestration, (2) injection of CO2 on the OCS for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) with incidental CO2 storage, and (3) long-term storage of CO2 without the added financial benefit of EOR.

May 20, 2015   Congratulations to Akand Islam,Tad Patzek, and Alex Sun, who have just published "Thermodynamics phase changes of nano pore fluids" in the Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering. The goal of the work is to compute pressures exerted by the fluid molecules and to investigate how they change due to pore proximity by assuming the pore wall is inert. The results clearly show the phase changes due to confinement. The critical shifts of temperatures and pressures are in good agreement compared to the laboratory data and molecular simulation. This work provides insights into the nature of fluid behavior in extremely low-permeability nanoporous media, especially in the tight shale reservoirs, below the critical temperatures.
May 15, 2015   We are delighted to announce the release of EASiTool 2.0 to the public and research community. This analytical simulation tool provides reliable estimation of storage capacity for any formation. It has been developed for technical and non-technical users with minimum engineering knowledge. For more information about EASiTool and for free download, please click here.
May 4, 2015   Tip Meckel and Ramon Trevino presented the poster "Offshore Texas Miocene CO2 Storage Project" at the Austin Geological Society Annual Poster Session at the University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology. Austin, TX
April 28 - May 1, 2015   GCCC staff took part in the Fourteenth Annual Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage Conference. Tip Meckel presented, "Regional Characterization of the Miocene Interval Offshore Texas, Gulf of Mexico for CO2 Storage" and "Accelerating Sustainability of Diverse Future Clean Energy Developments though CCUS." Katherine Romanak presented, "Technical Advances and Cost-Effective Monitoring: Results from a Case Study of Sensor Development for a New Process-Based Monitoring Method." Changing Yang presented, "Numerical Assessment of Monitoring Network Efficiency for CO2 Leakage Detection: A Case Study at a CO2-EOR Site." Susan Hovorka presented "Merging Experience from Regulation of Injection with New Needs for Storage Certification" and "Subsea Geologic Storage in Continental Shelves – Global Research Needs, Potential, and Technical Issues." Pittsburgh, PA
April 28, 2015   BEG Industry Day. GCCC researchers and graduate research assistants participated in the annual even, which was held at BEG’s Houston Research Center. As in previous years, GCCC and other BEG groups presented their research during a well-attended poster session. Becky Smyth presented "Monitoring CO2: the quest for a clean signal." Jacob Anderson presented "Light Hydrocarbon Geochemical Changes during Migration through Overburden: Proxy for Potential Geological Carbon Storage Leakage." Francis Mulcahy presented "Use of high resolution 3D seismic data to evaluate Quaternary valley evolution during transgression, offshore San Luis Pass, Gulf of Mexico." Dallas Dunlap and Ramon Trevino presented "High resolution 3D Imaging of Quaternary Channelization Offshore San Luis Pass, Texas." Johnathon Osmond presented "Fault observations in Lower Miocene to recent sediments using high-resolution shallow P-Cable and conventional offshore 3-D seismic data in the San Luis Pass, Texas." Other GCCC researchers in attendance were Sue Hovorka, Jiemin Lu, and Hilary Olson,. GCCC staff members were happy to participate in discussions with a number of our industry sponsors who attended the meeting. Houston, TX

Jacob Anderson speaks with industry representatives about his research.

Francis Mulcahy speaks with industry representatives about his research.

Jonathan Osmond speaks with industry representatives about his research.
April 23, 2015   At its annual First Author Publication Awards Dinner, the Bureau of Economic Geology paid tribute to researchers who were first authors of papers published in 2014. Thirty-six first authors were recognized at this year’s event, eight for the first time. GCCC post-doc Akand Islam had the most first-author publications in 2014, with a remarkable five articles. Congratulations Akand!
April 18-23, 2015   In support of the CCUS initiative of the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group, Tip Meckel, Susan Hovorka and Jiemin Lu attended a series meetings and workshops in Beijing, Shanwei, and Guangzhou in China. One of the primary purposes of the visit was to attend the 2nd CCUS workshop of U.S.-China CCWG in support offshore CCUS in Gulf of Mexica and Guangdong offshore as potential counterfacing U.S.-China CCUS projects under CCWG initiatives. The other major objective is for Gulf Coast Carbon Center to establish working relationship with various Chinese research groups and industrial partners who are involved in potential offshore CCUS project in Pearl River Basin offshore Guangdong Province. The focus of GCCC efforts was to facilitate technical transfer with U.K.-China (Guangdong) CCUS Center to support the development of offshore CCS demonstration projects in both countries. Susan Hovorka called the trip both productive and prestigious.

During the workshop, Tip Meckel gave a talk, “U.S. Offshore CO2 Storage,” which was followed by discussion with experts from China about ways to further collaborate and to develop strategies to promote Guangdong Offshore CCUS. Susan Hovorka gave a talk Critical role of reservoir characterization in CO2 EOR flood design” and discussed the potentials of modifying CO2 flood design according to reservoir properties to improve production performance at the Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development (RIPED), PetroChina, in Beijing. The group also toured the Haifeng Power Plant of China Resources Power in Shanwei, Guangdong. Sue Hovorka, Tip Meckel and Jiemin Lu also presented GCCC’s research on the past DOE-funded CCS projects at the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, Guangdong. The trip was facilitated and hosted by the US Department of Energy.

GCCC researchers (L to R) Susan Hovorka, Tip Meckel, Jiemin Lu, and Heping Zhu, Deputy Director of Technology, China Resources Power; a member of the U.S. counsulate; Samuel Tam, China Chief Representative, U.S. Department of Energy, and Dr. Ming Sung, Chief Representative, Asia Pacific, Clear Air Task Force at the Haifeng Power Plant of China Resources Power.

Susan Hovorka and Jiemin Lu visit the control room at the Haifeng Power Plant of China Resources Power.

Tip Meckel presents GCCC's work on offshore CCS at the 2nd CCUS workshop of the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group.
April 14, 2015    Congratulations to Akand Islam and Alexander Y. Sun who have just published the paper, Quantification of CO2 masses trapped through free convection process in isothermal brine saturated reservoir in the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer. The paper investigates dissolution trapping of supercritical CO2 into formation brine as a potential mechanism for reducing buoyancy force in carbon storage formations. This study attempts to quantify how much CO2 can be stored through dissolution trapping assuming the free-phase CO2 will be dissolved continuously on the top of perturbed brine phase. Most former investigations focused on physical explanations of density-driven free convection instability. The aim of this paper is to compute the amount of CO2 (by mass) captured by dissolution trapping until the model reservoir reaches steady state. On average, the simulations performed show that 0.33 – 15 g CO2 will dissolve per year until a heterogeneous unit reservoir volume of 1 m3 reaches complete saturations. For the case of homogeneous reservoir this amount is 0.28 – 6 g.
March 19-20, 2015    South Central Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. Jacob Anderson presented the talk "Light Hydrocarbon Geochemical Changes during Migration through Overburden: Proxy for Potential Geological Carbon Storage Leakage" and Mike Patson presented "Tracing the Effects of Fugitive CO2 on Dissolved Organic Carbon at Carbon Sequestration Sites." Stillwater, OK
March 11, 2015   SECARB 10th Annual Stakeholder's Briefing. Changbing Yang presented "Outcomes and Lessons Learned from Groundwater Monitoring." Lucie Costard presented "Near Surface Stratigraphy and Geophysics."

Susan Hovorka presented "Update on Reservoir Modeling, Final Testing, and P&A Underway" in which she discussed progress at Cranfield field. There, more than 5 million metric tons of CO2 have been injected for EOR, and monitored as part of the DOE-funded SECARB study. Groundwater was monitored at 13 wells over the site, and no evidence of leakage has been detected. Because no leakage has occurred, a series of experiments were conducted to determine how leakage would be detected, should it occur. They included lab reaction of groundwater with aquifer rocks and CO2; field test where CO2-saturated water was injected to see how it interacts with the rock-water system, and reactive transport modeling. The major findings are:

  1. At this site, like others studied, CO2 added to the aquifer does not release any hazardous constituents.
  2. The best analysis for detecting if CO2 has entered the aquifer is dissolved CO2 and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC).
  3. In a natural system with natural variability, the change from CO2 entering the aquifer cannot be detected far from the leak point.
March 7, 2015   Explore UT: The Biggest Open House in Texas. GCCC staff participated in the annual expo, which spans the entire Forty Acres, hosting 500 busloads of students who arrive for a day full of fun and learning. GCCC activities developed by Susan Hovorka included "Find Gold" and "What to Do About CO2."

Susan Hovorka (Left) and Jacob Anderson (Right) make invisible CO2 real for a young visitor.
February 21-22, 2015   Dr. Tip Meckel led a coring operation in the inner Texas shelf offshore Galveston Island. The study site was previously imaged in 2013 by Meckel and his collaborators using the UT Bureau of Economic Geology’s high-resolution 3D seismic (Pcable). Seismic interpretations indicates that there is a deep-seated gas chimney at the site and identified a suite of shallow seismic anomalies at a depth 10 to 40 meters below the seafloor. These anomalies have been interpreted to be shallow free gas accumulations. The goal of this core sampling is to determine if the gas anomalies can be identified and resolved with the fine spatial detail imaged in the seismic data. The dataset provides important information for monitoring strategies for the future potential for offshore storage of CO2 in the stratigraphy beneath the offshore State Waters.
The torpedo-shaped instrument on the left side of the vessel is the lead head weight that pushes pipe into the sediment for coring.
February 18, 2015   iPGST (informal Petrology, Geochemistry, Structure & Tectonics) Brownbag Lunch Seminar. Johnathon Osmond presented a talk, "Investigating possible mechanisms of containment failure within lower Miocene to Recent stratigraphy using 3-D seismic data in the San Luis Pass area, Texas Gulf Coast" The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
February 9-11, 2015   The 5th Korea International CCS Conference. Toti Larson attended the conference on Jeju Island, South Korea and presented a talk, "Using coupled models and experiments to understand complex geochemistry of CO2 storage and transport of fugitive gases and fluids." He engaged in fruitful discussions with KCRC Director Dr. Sang-do Park and assistant Dr. Hwansoo Chong who are involved in the planning of onshore pilot CCS projects and commercial-scale offshore projects for the Korea CCS 2020 project. With assistance of GCCC Sponsor KCRC and Dr. Hunsoo Choi, Director of Geochemical Monitoring at KIGAM, which is a research group developing technologies for capture, transport and storage of CO2, Dr. Larson was also invited to speak about his work related to gas transport in the subsurface at the KIGAM research center in Daejeon City, South Korea.
Toti Larson speaks at the 5th International CCS Conference, and enjoys traditional Korean BBQ with KIGAM scientists: Kwon Gyu Park, Jeong Chan Kim, Young Jae Shinn, Hunsoo Choi, and Gutak Chae (Kue-Young Kim photo credit).
February 3, 2015    The Huffington Post published a piece by science writer Juli Berwald, who covers GCCC activities. The article is based on a GCCC blog by Tip Meckel, about the possibility of mitigating Keystone-XL pipeline emissions using CCS on the Gulf Coast.
February 2, 2015   Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Workshop for CCS Capacity for Mexico and China. Vanessa Nunez was invited to speak. Kemper, MS.
January 26-30, 2015   International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Susan Hovorka participated in a meeting, which seeks to bring together experts from around the world to develop international standards for standardization of CCS. Birmingham AL.
January 26, 2015   Tip Meckel is the lead author with Steve Bryant and Ravi Ganesh on a new paper in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Characterization and prediction of CO2 saturation resulting from modeling buoyant fluid migration in 2D heterogeneous geologic fabrics." (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1750583614003855) The paper quantifies saturations for a broad range of clastic facies and depositional architectures, presents a two-dimensional invasion percolation saturation predictor model, validates IP predictor model with natural geologic specimens and field example, and provides implications of saturation variability for capacity estimation and seismic imaging.
January 22, 2015   Legislative Media Open House for Texas Journalists. Katherine Romanak and JP Nicot participated in an open house organized by The University of Texas at Austin aimed at providing the media with expert technical information on legislation that may be proposed in the upcoming session. Austin TX.
(left to right) Charles Werth, GCCC's JP Nicot, David Eaton, and Sheila Olmstead speak to an Austin-based reporter.
January 18-31, 2015   Alex Sun and Jiemin Lu led an experiment to demonstrate the efficacy of a harmonic pulse testing (HPT) technique for monitoring potential leakage from geologic carbon sequestration formations. HPT is a pressure-based, active monitoring technique for detecting the presence of leaks by modulating the injection pattern and monitoring observation well pressure responses. Because an actual example of well failure did not exist, the field project created a controlled release in order to simulate this negative event. The study site included a CO2 injector and two observation wells located approximately 300 ft and 400 ft away. During the experiments, the observation wells were instrumented with high-resolution pressure gauges. Controlled CO2 venting was engineered from one of the observation wells to simulate the worst-case leakage from the reservoir. Square pulses of different period lengths were imposed at the injector by maneuvering the wellhead choking valve. Preliminary analyses of pressure data show promising results. The field experiment was funded by DOE and NETL and coordinated with SECARB. It was conducted in collaboration with a team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab funded under a different project.
From left to right, Jiemin Lu, Paul Cook (LBL), and Kate Hart (EchoGen) test the controlled release system. Photo courtesy Dr. Barry Freifeld.
January 6, 2015   Along with David Bomse of Mesa Photonics, LLC, Katherine Romanak and Changbing Yang have won an SBIR/STTR FY 2015 Phase I grant for approximately $225,000 for their proposal "Real-time, in situ, process-based soil gas analyzer." This technology was born out of CCS monitoring research but is being supported for its overarching scientitifc value for understanding complex terrestrial systems.

The proposed project builds on two recent innovations. First, Romanak and her colleagues demonstrated that concentration measurements of four simple gases – oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen – are sufficient to characterize and potentially quantify important activity in unsaturated sediments and soils including barometric pumping, aerobic and anaerobic biologic activity (respiration, denitrification and methane oxidation), and CO2 and carbonate dissolution. This approach has been demonstrated successfully at playa lakes where there is systematic spatial variability in CO2 formation and consumption, and at several engineered sites where exogenous gases were added to test the robustness of the process-based method. Second, Mesa Photonics demonstrated an all-optical technique for real-time measurements of the four key gases. Although inexpensive commercial sensors are available for CO2, CH4, and O2, measurements of N2 concentrations require expensive, cumbersome equipment that, in some cases, is incompatible with oxygen.

This project will lead to commercialization of fully-automated and self-contained soil gas analyzers. Each device will be about the size of a one-gallon container and could be powered by a small solar panel with battery backup.

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For more information please contact Sue Hovorka, lead technical contact (512-471-4863) susan.hovorka@beg.utexas.edu




GHGT12 wrapped up in Austin to strong reviews. Over 1150 registered attendees from 35 countries shared technical information about CCS while enjoying Texas hospitality. GCCC staff presented eight oral talks, eleven posters, and hosted a successful open house that included tours of the capture facility and core repository as well as highlights of GCCC research.


Carbon dioxide, produced by combustion of fossil fuels, exceeds global assimilative capacity and may result in negative impacts on the ocean and climate. The Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) seeks to impact global levels of atmospheric greenhouse-gas emissions by

  • Conducting studies on geologically sequestering CO2 in the deep subsurface, focusing on the Gulf Coast,
  • Educating the public about risks that might limit deployment and measuring the retention of CO2 in the subsurface, and
  • Enabling the private sector to develop an economically viable industry to sequester CO2 in the Gulf Coast area.

For a flier on GCCC mission, activities, impact, and goals, please click here

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