The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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June 2013
RomanakAttendees at the 12th Annual Conference on Carbon Capture Utilization & Sequestration (CCUS), convening in Pittsburgh on May 13–16, were asked to vote for the presentations they believed to be the "most ground breaking, innovative and insightful." Chosen from among the more than 240 speakers was Katherine Romanak for her presentation "Protocol for Response to Claims of CO2 Leakage: Case Study at the Kerr Farm, Weyburn-Midale Oilfield." CCUS will also submit Katherine's presentation to Wiley's journal Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology for their consideration for publication.

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constructed from full-resolution topographic lidar data of the Dalton Highway and permafrost-related soil and ice polygons in the North Slope survey area.
The July issue of The Leading Edge, journal of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), features research by the Bureau's Coastal Group. In a special section on hydrogeophysics, the journal features "Airborne lidar on the DEM constructed from full-resolution bathymetric lidar returns classified as water bottom (lake or river floor) along the
Sagavanirktok RiverAlaskan North Slope: Wetlands mapping, lake volumes, and permafrost features," reviewing the work of researchers Jeffrey Paine, John Andrews, Kutalmis Saylam, Thomas Tremblay, Aaron Averett, Tiffany Caudle, Thoralf Meyer, and Michael Young. The article examines current lidar technology and its application in mapping terrain and bathymetry, as in the recent survey conducted by BEG of Alaska's North Slope.

PaineThe Bureau’s coastal program has been awarded a substantial grant by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to assess historical bay shoreline changes to improve the management, protection, and restoration of bay systems in Texas. Senior Research Scientist Jeffrey Paine will serve as PI and Tiffany Caudle as co-PI for the 3-year program. A research team including John Andrews, Kutalmis Saylam, Aaron Averett, and Tom Tremblay will  acquire and analyze high-resolution airborne topographic lidar data from three Texas bay systems: Matagorda, Copano/Aransas/Redfish, and San Antonio/Mission/Espiritu Santo. The study will characterize shoreline types, quantify bay shoreline change, and assess shoreline vulnerability to sea-level change in an effort to better understand the geologic context of shoreline change, predict future change, and identify bay environments vulnerable to future natural and human processes.


Linda McCall at the Perot Museum
Bureau Information Geologist Linda Ruiz McCall speaks to a group of Texas educators at a workshop held in June at the recently opened Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. Linda shared information about the Bureau and spoke on the topic of surface water and groundwater interaction. The twenty-seven workshop participants are facilitators, or teachers that teach other teachers. Project Aquatic WILD is a K-12 curriculum about water resources and how good stewardship is required to preserve water for wildlife. BEG presented the participants with maps to use in their classrooms. Partners for this workshop include Lucy Hale, Director of School Programs with the Perot Museum, and Cappy Smith and Kiki Corry of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

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Jay Kipper (left) and Scott Tinker celebrate 5 years of Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC) operation at the Harvard Club in downtown Boston. They were in Boston participating with more than 150 students, professors and industry members from around the world at the AEC's 8th Biannual "All Projects Review" on May 28-31, 2013 at Schlumberger's Doll Research Center. Over its 5 years of existence the AEC has provided more than $40 million in funding to more than 27 different universities from around the world. The goal of the research consortium is to develop subsurface nano and micro sensors that can be injected into oil and gas well bores. These sensors would migrate out of the well bores and into the pores of the surrounding geological formation to collect data about the physical characteristics of hydrocarbon reservoirs. The data collected could enable the more efficient exploitation of hydrocarbon resources. 4The current membership of the AEC includes BG, BP, Petrobras, Schlumberger, Shell, Statoil and Total. Due to the exciting research results that have been achieved at the AEC, multiple companies from North America, South America, the Middle East and Asia are currently considering membership. Building on the foundation of basic research the AEC conducted during the first 5 years of existence we have now begun to integrate real world oil & gas application themes into our future portfolio. Expect lots of exciting news from the AEC in the coming years. Current member

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Eric Potter, Hongliu Zeng, Bob Loucks, and Steve Ruppel made presentations at the International Symposium on Theoretical Advancement and Technology Innovation for Emerging Energy Resources (TATIEER): Deep and Unconventional Resources, in Beijing, April 13–14. The event was hosted by RIPED, the research component of PetroChina, at their large campus near downtown Beijing. BEG was a co-sponsor of the event, which was attended by 300 people, including Chinese researchers, explorationists, and students, as well as delegates from CSIRO, North Queensland University, representatives of international energy companies, and the BEG delegation. Several members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences were honorary attendees. The talks featured updates on unconventional resource development in China, including the many volcanic-reservoir plays characteristic of the rifting phase of many Chinese basins. RIPED capped the event with a laboratory tour, showcasing significant equipment additions related to shale reservoir characterization.
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Dr. Katherine Romanak Water. Again. Dr. Katherine Romanak, geochemist in the Bureau of Economic Geology's Gulf Coast Carbon Center, looked intently at the little drops of water coursing through plastic tubing at the Hastings field site near Houston, Texas. The tubing snaking down to different depths in test wells should have contained only gas, but recent rains had added water to the complex mix of gases found near the surface. Romanak was hoping to refine a new technique for monitoring whether any carbon dioxide in this area of the field had migrated from a deep CO2-storage formation. But it would take many more tests that day to obtain some suitable gas samples for her work. "That's just the way science is sometimes," she said, as she turned back to the complex array of instruments into which the tubing ran.

Dr. Romanak has led the effort to develop a quick and effective way to determine the source of carbon dioxide in shallow sediments. Knowing where the CO2 originates is vital in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) operations, which use carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery, as is being done at Hastings. Her technique involves measuring levels of oxygen, methane, nitrogen, and, of course, carbon dioxide, and using ratios of the balance between them to determine the source of CO2, whether shallow or deep. Not only can this technique tell us what processes add to and subtract from CO2 concentrations, but it may be able to quantify how much CO2 is produced and consumed in each process. The method has tremendous application for environmental and energy research, and it seems to work well.

Traditional thought has been that CO2 monitoring above CCUS sites would require widespread measurement over broad areas with a large number of sensors over a very long time—up to three years in some cases—to determine baseline concentrations. With Dr. Romanak’s method, the CO2 level over or under baseline conditions can be accurately determined in a fraction of that time, and at specific points on the surface of the ground. This can quickly determine if CO2

sequestered in a deep rock formation is staying where it should be for storage, or if CO2 injected into a rock layer to push residual hydrocarbons toward extraction is leaking to the surface. Romanak’s process can be used to target where CO2 at the surface might come from—for example, in the vicinity of an old well or an underground fault—and the findings may be able to reassure landowners that CO2 levels are safe.

“We’re very excited about this method of assessing the source of CO2 and what it could mean in the future,” Dr. Romanak says. “As we study our new technique, we’re increasingly confident that we’re on the right track toward being able to quickly and effectively identify if CO2 leakage is occurring.” - Mark Blount


 

 
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