The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP), led by Battelle, has completed its Phase II projects to evaluate storage of carbon dioxide in its nine-state region. In addition to the Phase II Final Report, which summarizes more than five years of research activities, 16 other detailed reports on geologic sequestration field tests, terrestrial sequestration field tests and regional geologic characterization efforts are now available at www.mrcsp.org.
Collective evidence from these characterization, injection, and monitoring efforts substantiates previous assessments that this nine state region has significant storage potential. The field tests provide confidence that larger scale applications can also be implemented successfully.
Funding for the Phase II effort came primarily from the US Department of Energy. The second largest contributor was the Ohio Coal Development Office and the remainder of funding came from private contributions from some of the other 35-plus members of the MRCSP.
Such validation-scale projects assist the development of site-specific monitoring and assessment programs that meet regulatory and public expectations. The Phase II work helped identify both the opportunities and challenges for carbon sequestration and provided direction for future efforts. For example, the geologic mapping and field tests confirmed technical feasibility of geologic carbon sequestration and monitoring in the deep subsurface. The next steps include additional detailed mapping, site characterization, and testing, as well as larger-scale projects to establish performance certainty needed for long-term operations.
The focus of the overall MRCSP program is to develop a class of carbon sequestration technologies, which includes capture and storage of carbon dioxide in deep geologic structures such as saline formations, active and depleted oil and gas fields, organic rich shales, and unmineable coal seams. It also includes increasing the storage of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, agricultural lands, and wetlands.
The program is being implemented in three phases: Phase I (Characterization Phase), Phase II (Validation Phase) and Phase III (Development Phase). Phase I began in October 2003 and focused on developing a comprehensive assessment of regional CO2 sources and potential geological sequestration opportunities within the Midwest region. Building on this foundation, a series of small-scale field validation tests were conducted in the Phase II portion of the program (late 2005 - early 2011). The ongoing Phase III of the program builds on the Phase II successes, with major goals of conducting a larger volume CO2 injection and monitoring test into a geologic reservoir and continued assessment of CO2 storage and utilization opportunities in the MRCSP region.
Key achievements and findings of Phase II are:
The MRCSP Phase II project exceeded its original goal for validation field tests by successfully completing three geologic field tests, one in each of the three major geologic provinces of the region, and completing four terrestrial field tests on land types of regional significance.
The Phase II project involved a significant refinement and increased understanding of the region's geologic storage potential through the collective efforts of the team of geologic experts from each of the region's nine states.
Refinement of earlier estimates of regional storage capacity in the MRCSP’s deep geologic formations further confirmed the potential for storing at least a century’s worth of CO2 emissions from all the region’s major CO2 sources.
Validation scale field testing conducted at the Phase II Cincinnati Arch site (Duke Energy’s East Bend power station in northern Kentucky) demonstrated good injectivity into the Mount Simon Sandstone at a depth of about 3,500 feet. The Mount Simon reservoir has the largest storage capacity in the region and one of the largest potential storage reservoirs in the US. This was the first known injection test into the Mount Simon for purposes of qualifying storage potential.
Validation scale testing into the Bass Islands Formation in Michigan demonstrated the efficacy of carbonates rocks as a potential storage target in the MRCSP region. Previously, such formations were not included in the MRCSP’s estimates of regional storage capacity. As a result, carbonates like the Bass Islands, Copper Ridge/Knox Dolomite along Ohio Valley and others are now considered as potential additions to the MRCSP’s estimated storage potential. However, such formations require detailed exploration and geologic framework development due to their heterogeneous nature.
Validation scale testing into the complex and heterogeneous geological regions like the northern Appalachian Basin (FirstEnergy’s R. E. Burger Plant) helped establish familiarity with CO2 sequestration technologies in the region. It provided important deep well data points in a strategically valuable portion of the MRCSP region that may hold promise for geologic storage, but requires more characterization for mapping and quantification of storage potential.
The field tests provided opportunities for US EPA Region 4, U.S. EPA Region 5, and Ohio EPA to review and process three permit applications for CO2 injection and to start building experience for future permit applications. The permit requirements were successfully met and all wells at all three sites have been closed as required.
The oil and gas industry provides a wealth of experience and sophisticated technologies that can be used for modeling, implementing and monitoring of geologic carbon sequestration facilities. However, continued development and testing of monitoring approaches under various field settings is essential to adapt those techniques to the unique needs of long-term carbon storage.
The Phase II geologic characterization work further underscored opportunities for enhanced oil recovery and storage in the region. Further study would provide a greater understanding of how to optimize production and storage operations, as well as staging of CO2 sources. In the near-term, monitoring and assessment of enhanced oil recovery projects in depleted oil fields can serve as a cost-effective bridge towards carbon dioxide storage in deep saline formations.
Terrestrial sequestration was confirmed as a valuable sequestration resource for the MRCSP region with the biophysical potential to sequester approximately 15% of the region’s annual CO2 emissions from large-point sources for a period of time, if deployed at full-scale.
It is critical to engage the public, legislature, regulators, and industry in project implementation and in sharing the results of the research. These audiences are concerned about the safety, reliability, and cost effectiveness of this technology. The MRCSP team found that it was important to develop relationships with community leaders and to work with local groups both to assess concerns and develop productive outreach efforts. Much of this work was achieved in collaboration with the companies hosting the research projects on their property
The MRCSP program leadership and validation-scale geologic field tests were conducted by Battelle’s Carbon Management team in Columbus with support from team members from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by Battelle for the DOE. The field tests were made possible through facilities and site support provided by FirstEnergy, Duke Energy, DTE Energy, and Core Energy, LLC. The terrestrial sequestration field tests were carried out by research partners Ohio State University, West Virginia University, University of Maryland, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection with Rutgers University. The regional mapping and delineation of geologic sequestration potential was led by Ohio Division Geological Survey and a team of geological experts from each of the nine MRCSP states including Kentucky Geological Survey-University of Kentucky, Indiana Geological Survey, Maryland Geological Survey, New Jersey Geological Survey, New York State Museum Institute, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, Rutgers University, West Virginia Geological Survey, and Michigan Geological Survey - Western Michigan University.