Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium
  • Additional information related to ongoing MGSC efforts can be found on their website.

The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) is an association of the geological surveys of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky joined by private corporations, professional business associations, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, three Illinois state agencies, and university researchers to assess carbon capture, transportation, and geologic storage processes and their costs and viability in the Illinois Basin region. The Illinois State Geological Survey is the Lead Technical Contractor for MGSC, which covers all of Illinois, southwest Indiana, and western Kentucky. This partnership was established to assess the safety and capacity of geologic carbon storage options in the Illinois Basin, a 155,400-km2 (60,000-mi2), oval-shaped, geologic feature. Deep, uneconomic coal resources, numerous mature oil fields, and deep saline formations with potential to store CO2 lie within the basin.

Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium Partnership Region
Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium Partnership Region

MGSC tests the capability of the three types of reservoirs identified within the basin to serve as storage formations for some of the more than 265 million metric tons of annual CO2 emissions from major industrial stationary sources in the Illinois Basin. The Illinois Basin region contributes about 11 percent of the total U.S. CO2emissions from electric power generation plants. Coal is the dominant fossil fuel for these plants and contributes 97 percent of the Illinois Basin CO2 emissions from stationary sources of electricity.

Map showing the location of CO2 producing point sources within the Illinois Basin area
Map showing the location of CO2 producing point sources within the Illinois Basin area.

The primary goal of the partnership is to form a nationwide network determining the most suitable technology, regulatory, and infrastructure needs for carbon storage. The overall mission objectives of the partnership include:

  • Assessment of carbon capture and transportation options in the region, focusing on options for field tests and pipeline requirements for long-term storage.
  • Carbon storage assessment for each of the three geologic storage formations: unmineable coal seams, oil reservoirs, and saline formations.
  • Link options for capture, transportation, and geologic storage within the developing environmental and regulatory framework, in addition to defining storage scenarios and potential outcomes for the region.
  • Developing monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) protocols to ensure safe and effective storage operations.

To achieve these objectives, a series of four small-scale pilot field tests (see map) were conducted by MGSC and its industry partners during their validation phase efforts. These pilot projects included the testing of unmineable coal seams to adsorb gaseous CO2 and the ability to enhance oil production or recovery from mature oil fields by CO2 flooding. Test results from the injection into deep coals indicate that the formation can successfully store CO2 and cause trapped methane to be released, providing the potential to augment natural gas supplies. The three enhanced oil recovery (EOR) tests yielded improved oil recovery at increased rates. Increased oil yield provides a mechanism of reducing storage costs through increased oil revenue.

Map shows the outline of the Illinois basin (in blue) and the locations of the field tests for both the Validation and Development Phases
Map shows the outline of the Illinois basin (in blue) and the locations of the field tests for both the validation and development phases. The EOR and coal tests were performed under the validation phase, and the deep saline test is performed under the large-scale development phase.

development phase large-scale injection demonstration is underway at a corn processing facility in Decatur, Illinois. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Schlumberger Carbon Services are key industry partners for this project, which will inject 1 million metric tons of CO2 over three years. The target formation receiving the CO2 is the Mt. Simon Sandstone saline formation, one of the most significant potential carbon storage resources in the United States. A comprehensive MVA program, including shallow groundwater, soil gas, resistivity, and atmospheric monitoring was started in March 2008 and continued with the completion of four regulatory shallow groundwater monitoring wells in mid-2010.

Map shows the outline of the Illinois basin (in blue) and the locations of the field tests for both the Validation and Development Phases
Monitoring well being drilled adjacent to the injection well (red piping in lower left of image in foreground) at the large-scale saline injection site in Decatur, IL.

Public outreach and communication has been and continues to be a priority during both the validation phase and development phase efforts. During the validation phase, MGSC produced project-specific brochures for local landowners that focused on describing the project and the type of activities landowners could expect to see in the area during the project. MVA personnel, project management, and field personnel spoke with local officials and landowners to notify them of activities associated with the project and to answer any questions. Since the announcement of development phase efforts, MGSC has focused on outreach surrounding the Illinois Basin-Decatur Project. A variety of outreach materials, including fact sheets, posters, presentations, and models, have been utilized to provide information about the project specifics and carbon capture and storage in general to all major stakeholders in the Decatur area.

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