A US Department of Energy (DOE) team of regional partners has begun injecting carbon dioxide into coal seams in the Central Appalachian Basin to determine the feasibility of CO2 storage in unmineable coal seams and the potential for enhanced coalbed methane recovery. The results of the study will be used to assess the potential of carbon storage in coal seams as a safe and permanent method to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing production of natural gas.
DOE’s Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB) began injecting CO2 at the test site in Russell County, Virginia, in mid-January. Earlier, an existing coalbed methane well had been converted for CO2 injection, and two wells has been drilled to monitor reservoir pressure, gas composition, and the CO2 plume. The targeted coal seams are in the Pocahontas and Lee formations and range from 1,400 to 2,200 feet in depth and from 0.7 to 3.0 feet in thickness. One thousand tons of CO2 will be injected over a 45-day period.
The site was selected because it is representative of the Central Appalachian Basin, an area of about 10,000 square miles located in southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. This area has been assessed by researchers to have the capacity to store 1.3 billion tons of CO2 in the coal seams while increasing natural gas production up to 2.5 trillion cubic feet.
The project is being coordinated by the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research.
Initiated in 2003, DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program now includes seven partnering regions that were established to determine the best approaches for capturing and permanently storing CO2. SECARB is led by the Southern States Energy Board and represents more than 100 partners and stakeholders in 13 southeastern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Central Appalachian Basin CO2 Storage Project is one of four pilot tests that the partnership is sponsoring for the validation phase of the project. In this phase, multiple sequestration sites and technologies are being validated in preparation for large-scale injection that will occur in the development phase.