The Department of Energy (DOE) has granted the last of seven large-scale carbon sequestration project awards to the Big Sky Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, an effort led by Montana State University-Bozeman. The $66.9 million award will allow the partnership to conduct a large-volume test in a Wyoming sandstone formation to demonstrate if it is possible to permanently and economically store more than two million tons of carbon dioxide underground.

The Big Sky partnership’s large-volume injection test will be located at the Riley Ridge Unit on the LaBarge Platform in Southwest Wyoming. The project will demonstrate the entire CO2 injection process—pre-injection characterization, injection process monitoring, and post-injection monitoring—and provide the foundation for the future development of COcapture and storage opportunities in the region. Including the partnership’s cost share, the project is estimated to cost $130.6 million.

Big Sky plans to drill a CO2 injection well and then inject up to one million tons per year of CO2 into the Nugget Sandstone formation at a depth of approximately 11,000 feet. These eolian sandstone formations are present throughout the region and present the opportunity to store more than 100 years of CO2 emissions from point sources in the region. The CO2 for the project will be supplied by Cimarex Energy Company’s planned helium and natural gas processing plant at Riley Ridge.

The DOE’s award marks the end of the third phase of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program. Six other large-scale field projects are currently being developed throughout the United States by the other Regional Partnerships. According to the DOE, this initiative, launched in 2003, forms the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to place carbon capture and storage technologies on the path to commercialization. The seven regional partnerships include more than 350 organizations from government, industry, and academia and extend across the United States and into Canada.

During the first phase of the program, the partnerships characterized the potential for CO2 storage in deep oil-, gas-, coal-, and saline-bearing formations. When Phase I ended in 2005, the partnerships had identified more than 3,000 billion metric tons of potential storage capacity in promising sinks—representing more than 1,000 years of storage capacity from point sources in North America, the DOE said.

In the program’s second phase, the partnerships implemented a portfolio of small-scale geologic and terrestrial sequestration projects. The purpose of these tests was to validate that different geologic formations have the injectivity, containment, and storage effectiveness needed for long-term sequestration.

Phase III large-volume tests are designed to validate that the capture, transportation, injection, and long-term storage of over one million tons of carbon dioxide can be done safely, permanently, and economically.

Source: DOE