Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration
Additional information related to ongoing SWP efforts can be found on their website.

The Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration (SWP) is led by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and represents a coalition composed of a diverse group of experts in geology, engineering, economics, public policy, and outreach. The 50 SWP partners represent state and federal agencies, universities, electric utilities, non-governmental organizations, coal, oil and gas companies, and the Navajo Nation. The partners are engaged in several aspects of SWP projects and contribute to the efforts to deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the southwestern region of the United States. SWP encompasses Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Kansas, Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming.

Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration Region and Project Sites
Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration Region and Project Sites
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The overarching goal of the partnership is to promote the development of a regional framework and infrastructure required to verify and deploy storage technologies by developing safe, effective, and economical approaches for capturing and permanently storing CO2 to reduce the region's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SWP relies heavily on existing technologies from engineering, geology, chemistry, biology, geographic information system (GIS), and economics to develop novel approaches for both geologic and terrestrial carbon storage in the region. SWP also engages in economic and regulatory analyses, public education and outreach, and regional demonstration projects to deploy and evaluate new technologies.

SWP CO2 Emission Sources by State
SWP CO2 Emission Sources by State
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The southwest region of the United States is energy-rich and possesses some of the largest population and energy-production growth rates in the nation. Two major pipeline networks transport more than 27 million metric tons (30 million tons) per year of natural subsurface CO2from southern Colorado and northern New Mexico to petroleum fields in the Permian Basin, where it is used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The 10 largest coal-fired power plants in the region produce about 125 million metric tons (138 million tons) per year. Other stationary sources include natural gas processing plants, refineries, and ammonia/fertilizer, ethylene and ethanol, and cement plants.

The regional characterization of potential storage sites conducted during the initial (characterization phase) efforts confirmed that the region offers significant potential for storage in mature oil fields and coal seams, in addition to other sedimentary formations. SWP's validation phase pilot-scale geologic projects were designed to characterize and test areas of high CO2storage potential in the region, via enhanced coal bed methane (ECBM) extraction and EOR. Three locations were selected, and those projects have taken place or are underway in Utah, New Mexico, and Texas. The projects located in the Paradox Basin in Utah and within the SACROC field in Texas will validate the use of CO2 for EOR activities and for storage within the basins by continuous circulation and storage. The project, located within the San Juan Basin in New Mexico, uses ECBM recovery techniques to store CO2 and enhance gas extraction. These projects will store almost 750,000 metric tons of CO2 by their completion. To date, results indicate that the storage formations being used have the potential to store a significant portion of the region's CO2 emissions.

In addition to the geologic storage efforts, the region has a wealth of forest and agricultural lands, where improved management practices could also store substantial quantities of carbon, or use the available resources for biomass production. The partnership's efforts have included one terrestrial storage research and pilot study to leverage the large amount of potential CO2 uptake sources within the region. The program was designed to determine best management practices for carbon storage in croplands and rangelands, and explore carbon market opportunities. SWP has conducted a validation phase terrestrial storage pilot test in the San Juan Basin, near the ECBM site. The water produced by the ECBM process is desalinated and used to aid in terrestrial storage. With this method, scientists can enhance the natural cycle of CO2 absorption by plants by using the water to irrigate grasslands for new vegetation growth.

SWP is evaluating opportunities for CO2 storage with its partners in preparation for a development phase COstorage field project. Mid to early Paleozoic sandstones and the deep saline formations associated with them within the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountain area of the SWP region are of prime interest, due to high injection capacity, long term storage potential and close proximity to CO2 sources for storage. SWP is currently evaluating a project site within the Wasatch Plateau in central Utah to determine the large-scale storage capacity of the several Jurassic-age sandstones within the region.

Instruction of an infrared gas analyzer for the purpose of monitoring surface CO2 soil gas flux.
Instruction of an infrared gas analyzer for monitoring surface CO2 soil gas flux.

From 2008 to 2010, SWP partnered with the Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration (RECS) Program to attract graduate students and early career engineers to the CCS field. In 2010, the 10-day program focused primarily on CCS applications using group exercises, field tours, and safety training. This annual event is a groundbreaking step in combating the growing need in the energy industry for a wealth of young engineering talents. RECS participants are given the opportunity to learn from top industry professionals and RECS alumni.

Other highlights of the SWP Outreach and Education Program include:

  • Community involvement and outreach opportunities
  • Town hall meetings
  • Student internships
  • Lab tours
  • Technology training program

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