Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA) Focus Area

An MVA program is designed to confirm permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in geologic formations through monitoring capabilities that are reliable and cost effective. Monitoring is an important aspect of CO2 injection, since it focuses on a number of permanence issues. Monitoring technologies can be developed for surface, near-surface, and subsurface applications to ensure that injection, abandoned, and monitoring wells are structurally sound and that CO2 will remain within the injection formation. Federal greenhouse gas accounting regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act require monitoring to account for the quantity and injection of CO2 that has been stored underground. The location of the injected CO2 plume in the underground formation can also be determined through monitoring to satisfy operating requirements under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program to ensure that potable groundwater sources and sensitive ecosystems are protected.

The image below displays the various monitoring approaches that could be employed to monitor the fate of the CO2 within a geologic system (subsurface, near-surface, and atmospheric). Data analyzed through acquisition of information from these tools could also be used to optimize injection operations, sweep efficiency, and identify potential release pathways.

MVA Tools Utilized Throughout a Geologic System
MVA Tools Utilized Throughout a Geologic System

MVA Research Goals
It will be necessary to improve existing monitoring technologies, enhance the development of novel systems, and integrate protocols to satisfy regulations to track the fate of subsurface CO2 and quantify any emissions from the target formations. The Carbon Sequestration Program is sponsoring the development of MVA technologies and protocols that are broadly applicable in different geologic storage formations and have sufficient accuracy to account for greater than 99 percent of all CO2 injected into the storage formation. The goal is to have these developed by 2020. If necessary, the tools will support project developers to help quantify emissions from carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the unlikely event that CO2 migrates out of the injection zone. Coupled with the increased understanding of these systems and reservoir models, MVA tools will help in the development of one of DOE's goals to quantify storage capacity within ±30 percent accuracy.

MVA Technologies
The tools and protocols that provide assurance of CO2 storage permanence in geologic formations are the primary benefit of MVA research. Research conducted in this focus area includes developing and integrating:

  • Atmospheric Monitoring Technologies

  • Application

    • Atmospheric testing is used to identify possible releases of gaseous CO2 into the atmosphere from storage projects. It is unlikely that CO2 will reach the atmosphere once injected into suitable storage formations. In the event it does, technologies will be necessary to monitor and quantify releases of CO2from wellbores, faults, and diffuse soil releases.

    Research Focus

    • Research the development and application of novel chemical and isotopic tracers which may be precursors to a CO2 release at the ground surface.

    • Develop systems to monitor CO2 flux from soils to determine changes from baselines to identify and quantify releases.

    • Research potential open pathways for CO2 migration and develop CO2 detectors to identify releases from injected CO2.

  • Remote Sensing and Near-Surface Monitoring Technologies

  • Application

    • Detecting near-surface releases in the vadose zone and in groundwater sources are important to protecting underground sources of drinking water (USDW). It is also important to be able to detect pooling of high concentrations of CO2 in low lying areas and in structures. The benefits of monitoring in this zone are that natural variations of CO2 in the soil are typically minimal since biological activity typically occurs closer to the surface.

    Research Focus

    • Utilize remote sensing platforms to detect gas concentrations, land surface deformations, and biological impacts as indicators of a CO2 release and the fate of CO2 in the subsurface.

    • Advance water quality and soil gas analysis for isotopes, tracers, and organic and inorganic carbon as advanced warning signs of release.

    • Advance geophysical methods needed to image CO2 or sense changes in geochemistry in the vadose zone.

  • Subsurface Monitoring Technologies

  • Application

    • In order to achieve 99 percent storage permanence, monitoring tools must be able to locate CO2 in the target and surrounding storage formations and ensure that it is remaining in place. Carbon dioxide will migrate in the target formation through paths of least resistance. It is important to understand the fate of the injected CO2 to help identify possible releases as well as inform future monitoring events and simulation models. Carbon dioxide measurement is relatively easy near the injection well, but it becomes more challenging and expensive to perform these measurements over a large area typical of a geologic storage project. Technologies developed should be able to sense small changes from background levels and identify changes in CO2 levels outside the intended target storage formation.

    Research Focus

    • Advance geophysical methods and protocols to image CO2 or sense changes in geochemistry in the target or surrounding formations.

    • Develop remote sensing techniques that monitor parameters, such as land surface deformation, to correlate CO2 movement in the deep subsurface.

    • Improve sensors for subsurface monitoring of pressure and temperature that are able to withstand prolonged logging time in extreme pressure and temperature areas.

    • Improve tools and interpretation of data from well logging and seismic surveys that may increase the resolution of existing technologies and assess integrity of wellbores.

    • Develop novel tracers and sampling tools and methodologies for deep geologic sampling to use as indicators of CO2 transport in the target formations.

  • Design of Intelligent Monitoring Networks and Monitoring Protocols

  • Application

    • A number of monitoring tools may be deployed during various phases of the storage project. Project developers will need to design systems and protocols for deploying different technologies to address events that arise during a storage project. Certain technologies are low cost, but can serve as indicators of release, while others may only be deployed after an event has been identified. Research is needed to develop systems that would inform project developers of the capabilities of different MVA technologies and when they should be applied.

    Research Focus

    • Research and quantify the capabilities of different technologies to monitor and measure CO2 in the subsurface.

    • Research and design monitoring networks to detect, confirm, and quantify a CO2 release to support mitigation efforts and GHG reporting requirements.

These research areas, in conjunction with small- and large-scale injection projects, are expected to produce MVA tools that can be applied in a systematic approach to address target formation(s) depth(s), porosities, permeabilities, temperature(s), pressure(s), and associated caprock formation properties for each project. An additional benefit of research efforts will be the reduction in cost of these tools. Finally, the increased capabilities of MVA tools will yield the ability to account for the location of injected CO2 and any potential release. This not only meets the project storage goals, but also ensures the protection of human health and the environment.

The following table summarizes NETL's active projects that are currently addressing the critical monitoring, verification, and accounting barriers.

Project Name

Performer

Funding Source

A Sea Floor Gravity Survey of the Sleipner Field to Monitor CO2 Migration

SCRIPPS (Scripps Institute of Oceanography)

Base

Advanced Technologies for Monitoring CO2 Saturation and Pore Pressure in Geologic Formations: Linking the Chemical and Physical Effects to Elastic and Transport Properties

Stanford University

Base

Basic Science of Retention Issues, Risk Assessment & Measurement, Monitoring, & Verification for Geologic CO2 Sequestration

Montana State University

Base

Combining Space Geodesy, Seismology, and Geochemistry for Monitoring, Verification and Accounting of CO2 in Sequestration Sites

University of Miami

Base

Development and Deployment of a Compact Eye-Safe Scanning Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) for Spatial Mapping of Carbon Dioxide for Monitoring/Verification/Accounting at Geologic Carbon Sequestration Sites

Montana State University

Base

Development of a 1 x N Fiber Optic Sensor Array for Carbon Monitoring

Montana State University

ARRA

Double-Difference Tomography for Sequestration Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

ARRA

Feasibility of Geophysical Monitoring of Carbon-Sequestrated Deep Saline Aquifers

University of Wyoming

Base

Improving the Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting of CO2Sequestered in Geologic Systems with Multicomponent Seismic Technology and Rock Physics Modeling

University of Texas at Austin (BEG)

Base

In Situ MVA of CO2 Sequestration Using Smart Field Technology

West Virginia University Research Corporation
CONSOL Energy Inc.

Base

Integrated Reflection Seismic Monitoring and Reservoir Modeling for Geologic CO2 Sequestration

Fusion Petroleum Technologies

Base

Measurements of 222Rn, 220Rn, and CO2 Emissions in Natural CO2Fields in Wyoming: Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting Techniques for Determining Gas Transport and Caprock Integrity

University of Wyoming

ARRA

Modeling and Evaluation of Geophysical Methods for Monitoring and Tracking CO2 Migration in the Subsurface

The Ohio State University School of Earth Sciences

ARRA

Near-Surface Leakage Monitoring for the Verification And Accounting of Geologic Carbon Sequestration Using a Field Ready 14C Isotopic Analyzer

Planetary Emissions Management, Inc.

Base

New Approach for Long Term Monitoring of Potential CO2 Leaks from Geologic Sequestration Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) Base

Oak Ridge National Laboratory - GEOSEQ: Monitoring of Geological CO2 Sequestration Using Isotopes and Perfluorocarbon Tracers (PFTs)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Base

Passive Wireless Acoustic Wave Sensors for Monitoring CO2 Emissions for Geological Sequestration Sites

University of Pittsburgh

ARRA

Quantification of Wellbore Leakage Risks Using Non-Destructive Borehole Logging Techniques

Schlumberger Carbon Services

Base

Space Geodesy and Geochemistry Applied to the Monitoring, Verification of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Training and Research

University of Miami

ARRA

Tagging Carbon Dioxide to Enable Quantitative Inventories of Geological Carbon Storage

Columbia University

Base

Training Toward Advanced 3-D Seismic Methods for CO2 Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting

University of Houston

ARRA

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