Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership
Additional information related to ongoing PCOR efforts can be found on their website.

The Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership is a diverse group of approximately 100 public and private sector stakeholders from the United States and Canada working together to explore the technical and economic feasibility of capturing and storing CO2 emissions from stationary sources in deep geologic formations in the region. It is led by the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota. Since its inception in 2003, the partnership includes entities that have expertise in power generation; oil and gas exploration; and production, geology, engineering, the environment, agriculture, forestry, and economics. These partners are the backbone of the PCOR Partnership and provide data, guidance, and practical experience with the various facets of geologic and terrestrial storage of CO2.

Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership
Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership

The overall goal of the PCOR Partnership is to develop a core of local technical expertise and experience to facilitate future CO2 storage efforts in both subsurface and terrestrial settings in the plains region, thus providing results and assessments from these efforts to assist commercialization efforts for future storage projects in North America.

Stationary CO2 Sources in the PCOR Partnership Region
Stationary CO2 Sources in the PCOR Partnership Region

The PCOR Partnership project has identified, quantified, and categorized 927 stationary sources in the region that have an annual output of greater than 13,600 metric tons of CO2. The annual output from the various stationary sources ranges from 9.1 million to 16.3 million metric tons for the larger coal-fired electric generation facilities, to fewer than 91,000 metric tons for industrial and agricultural processing facilities that make up the majority of the sources in the region.

During the characterization phase, key data were gathered from oil fields, saline formations, and coal fields in the region to confirm that while numerous large stationary CO2 sources are present, the region also has tremendous potential for CO2 storage. The validation phase efforts included geologic storage field tests that involved storage and monitoring of CO2 in two depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs and one unmineable coal seam. The unmineable coal seam test involved injection of approximately 82 metric tons of CO2 over roughly two weeks. Monitoring results indicated that the CO2 was contained within the coal seam. This validation test affirmed that CO2 can be safely injected and stored in an unmineable lignite seam.

The Zama Oil Field in northwestern Alberta, Canada, is the site of a sour gas (approximately 70 percent CO2 and 30 percent hydrogen sulfide) injection for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), hydrogen sulfide disposal, and storage of CO2. A second oil and gas project was conducted to determine the effect of injecting CO2 into a deep, high-pressure carbonate formation in the Northwest McGregor Oil Field of North Dakota. The pilot-scale test injected 400 metric tons of CO2 into a single well and allowed it to sit for  two weeks before returning to production. In addition to demonstrating the feasibility of CO2 EOR in carbonate rocks deeper than 8,000 feet, the test demonstrated two technologies (a reservoir saturation tool and vertical seismic profiling) that may be effective for detecting and monitoring small-volume CO2 plumes in deep carbonate reservoirs.

PCOR also performed a terrestrial storage effort as part of the validation phase. Specifically, the study examined the Prairie Pothole Region, a major biogeographical zone encompassing nearly 347,000 mi2 that includes portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, and North and South Dakota in the United States, and portions of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The terrestrial field validation test was designed to develop the technical capacity to systematically identify, develop, and apply alternate land-use management practices to the Prairie Pothole ecosystem (at both local and regional scale) that results in net GHG reductions. Results from this project have provided the science and business processes framework needed for project developers and investors to advance emission reduction targets.

Drilling of an exploration well in the Fort Nelson, British Columbia area as part of the large-scale test currently underway.  
Drilling of an exploration well in the Fort Nelson, British Columbia area as part of the large-scale test currently underway.

The validation phase activities, along with continued regional characterization and integration with other RCSPs, are providing a firm technical foundation for the two large-scale development phase tests underway. The first large-scale test, the Bell Creek project, will bring CO2 from the Lost Cabin gas plant in north-central Wyoming through a pipeline. Once online, the EOR project will utilize nearly 900,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. This will provide a significant opportunity to develop a set of cost-effective MVA protocols for large-scale anthropogenic CO2 transport and storage associated with an EOR operation.

The second test may ultimately be the largest application of deep saline geologic storage in the world. If proven feasible, this project will provide permanent storage of 1 million to 2.2 million metric tons of CO2 per year from the Fort Nelson gas processing facility in northeastern British Columbia. This is the largest processing facility in the region and the largest of its type in North America. PCOR activities will play a key role in the development of an integrated risk management, reservoir simulation, and MVA strategy.

Throughout these efforts, public outreach and communication have been and continue to be a priority because large-scale, practical, and environmentally sound CO2 storage realities in the region cannot occur without an informed and supportive public. The PCOR Partnership has developed a number of outreach tools intended to educate and inform the public and decision makers about issues related to CO2 storage. The tools include websites, presentations, both in-depth and brief summary papers, PCOR meeting minutes, a regional atlas, DVDs, and a series of award winning documentaries that were aired on public television.

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