ARRA Research

Geologic Sequestration Site Characterization (GSSC) -

Recovery Act: Characterization of Pliocene and Miocene Formations in the Wilmington Graben, Offshore Los Angeles, for Large Scale Geologic Storage of CO2

Performer: Geomechanics Technologies, Inc.

Project No: FE0001922

Program Background and Project Benefits

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies offer the potential for reducing CO2 emissions without adversely influencing energy use or hindering economic growth. Deploying these technologies in commercial-scale applications requires adequate geologic formations capable of (1) storing large volumes of CO2, (2) receiving injected CO2 at efficient and economic rates, and (3) retaining CO2 safely over extended periods. Research efforts are currently focused on conventional and unconventional storage formations within depositional environments such as: deltaic, fluvial, alluvial, strandplain, turbidite, eolian, lacustrine, clastic shelf, carbonate shallow shelf, and reef. Conventional storage types are porous permeable clastic or carbonate rocks that have fluids such as brine, oil, or gas in the natural void spaces of the rocks. Unconventional storage types include unmineable coal, organic shale, and basalt interflow zones1.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) selected 10 projects that received $49 million of DOE funding to characterize promising geologic formations for CO2 storage. The funding was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which was enacted to create new jobs, spur economic activity, and promote long-term economic growth. This research further advances DOE’s efforts to develop a national assessment of CO2 storage resources in deep geologic formations. These 10 projects are focusing on the regional site characterization of high-potential geologic storage formations. They will assess and develop comprehensive data sets of storage formation characteristics (porosity, permeability, reservoir architecture, cap rock integrity, etc.) to provide insight into the potential for selected geologic reservoirs across the United States to safely and permanently store CO2. An additional $50 million of ARRA funding was provided to augment the work that the existing projects are conducting. This additional funding is allowing these projects to further characterize reservoir geology, identifying additional storage opportunities for industrial CO2 sources. This additional funding is allowing these projects to drill additional and/or deeper characterization wells, collect significantly better log and core data to populate models, collect additional geophysical data, and integrate additional data and conduct more extensive reservoir models.

The results from this study are expected to provide a summary of basin-scale suitability and will identify and prioritize potential offshore CO2 geological storage opportunities. Offshore geologic storage offers additional CO2 storage opportunities and may prove to be easier, safer, and less expensive than storing CO2 in geologic formations on land, particularly during the early days of commercialization. Offshore storage provides several advantages that include: (1) additional CO2 storage potential in the United States to supplement existing onshore capacity estimates; (2) locating geologic storage sites away from heavily populated areas; and (3) reduces the risk to underground sources of drinking water.

Specifically, this project will contribute to the understanding of injectivity, containment mechanisms, rate of dissolution and mineralization, and storage capacity of the Wilmington Graben and associated analog basins. The benefit of this research is that it will broaden the experimental knowledge base of best practices for site characterization and approving storage site selection with the ultimate goal of developing practical guidelines for future commercially developed CO2 storage sites. This effort provides greater insight into the potential for offshore geologic formations of the United States to safely and permanently store CO2 and refines the national assessment of offshore CO2 storage capacity in deep geologic formations.

Expected project results will establish and document the potential for more than 100 million metric tons of CO2 storage in this area. This effort will supplement and expand the WESTCARB Carbon Atlas Database, as well as the National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System (NATCARB). A full characterization of these formations for CO2 storage will help establish and broaden the options for large scale CO2 geologic storage throughout California. Furthermore, this project will evaluate CO2 storage potential in an offshore/near-shore region, which represents a unique effort and contribution to the portfolio of U.S. national geologic storage investigations.

Project Details