Release Date: August 30, 2007
|Regional Partner Launches Drilling Test in DOE's Carbon Sequestration Program|
Project Focuses on Greenhouse Gas Storage in Lignite Seam, Methane Gas Recovery
MORGANTOWN, WV —
As an integral part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to develop carbon sequestration technologies to capture and permanently store greenhouse gases, the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership has begun drilling operations to determine the suitability of a North Dakota lignite coal seam to simultaneously sequester the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and produce valuable coalbed methane.
The focus of the drilling operation will be to determine the long-term effect of CO2 on the lignite (the lowest grade of coal) and the potential for CO2 to enhance the recovery of coalbed methane. This effort is important in that North Dakota alone has the capacity to store 380 million tons of CO2 and the potential to recover an estimated 1.1 trillion cubic feet of methane to supplement the nation’s energy mix.
During the drilling operation, researchers used sampling techniques to indicate the presence of gas in the vicinity of the coal seam. Although the researchers have not yet determined the composition of the gas, they are currently analyzing it. The initial core indicates the seam is about 8 feet thick.
The PCOR Partnership will drill five wells in southeastern Burke County to complete a geologic characterization of the lignite coal seam, as well as the overlying geologic zones in the area. After the wells are lined with pipe and cement, they will be completed as CO2 injection or coalbed methane recovery wells.
Overall, the PCOR Partnership will focus on the following factors in the project:
The Energy & Environmental Research Center, located at the University of North Dakota, manages the project and will conduct the 2-year test in two phases. The first phase will include data collection related to the coal seam and an evaluation of the seam’s potential to produce coalbed methane. Previous investigations in the area pointed toward a potential for economically recoverable coalbed methane and CO2 sequestration potential in these deep unminable lignite seams. In phase 2, CO2 will be injected into the coal seam. During the test, the PCOR Partnership will be collaborating with Eagle Operating Inc., of Kenmare, N.D.
The PCOR Partnership expects to use the data generated from this test drilling to plan for similar sequestration operations throughout the region. The data can also provide information about the potential for additional coalbed methane recovery in the region.
The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program was created in 2002 to determine which of numerous sequestration approaches are best suited for each of the seven specific regions of the country. To date, the program includes more than 350 organizations in 41 states, four Canadian provinces, and three Indian nations.
The partnerships program is being implemented in three phases. The characterization phase (2003–2005), which characterized opportunities for carbon sequestration, has been completed. The current phase, the validation phase (2005–2009), generally encompasses small-scale field tests and includes the PCOR Partnership drilling test. The final phase, the deployment phase (2008–2017), will conduct large-volume carbon storage tests.
The PCOR Partnership includes more than 65 public and private partners in all or part of nine states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin) as well as four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). For more information on the PCOR Partnership, please visit www.undeerc.org/PCOR.