NETL is partnering with the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) to create training modules for senior-level undergraduate and graduate students to prepare them to participate in future industry-level CO2 injection projects. CO2 relevant training of this scope and state-of-the-art detail is not currently available at the university level. Industry CO2 storage experts endorse this training as a way to improve students’ awareness and understanding of the different aspects of CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) prior to employment. This curriculum is designed to introduce students to various CO2-EOR professionals as well as to expose them to relevant technical data, and will aid in developing a new generation of experts in the field of CO2 engineering and geosciences.
The project’s educational module consists of an introductory manual for the faculty, and numerous handouts—such as real-world examples of well log sets, production data sets, core photos and core reports, and water chemistry data—that are available to students studying geosciences, engineering, and land management. Field trips to analogs of CO2 storage, EOR, and residual oil zone (ROZ) EOR targets have occurred, and carbon storage reservoir core study sets and related special topic modules will be used to supplement classroom modules to document how outcrop data is combined with industry exploration and production techniques to provide a multi-disciplinary perspective (Figure 1). Students will also be exposed to case studies of Permian Basin reservoirs presently under CO2-EOR in both the main productive intervals and the ROZ. UTPB has also developed “road logs” that serve as comprehensive road maps detailing what to expect along a driving route for students taking field trips on their own time. The road logs point out areas of interest to investigate along the driving route, like major sources of CO2, geologic formation outcrops, EOR field operations taking place, or proposed carbon storage sites.
Fundamental and applied research on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies is necessary in preparation for future commercial deployment. These technologies offer great potential for mitigating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere without adversely influencing energy use or hindering economic growth.
Deploying these technologies in commercial-scale applications requires a significantly expanded workforce trained in various CCUS technical and non-technical disciplines that are currently under-represented in the United States. Education and training activities are needed to develop a future generation of geologists, scientists, and engineers who possess the skills required for implementing and deploying CCUS technologies.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), through funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, manages 43 projects that received more than $12.7 million in funding. The focus of these projects has been to conduct geologic storage training and support fundamental research projects for graduate and undergraduate students throughout the United States. These projects include such critical topics as simulation and risk assessment; monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA); geological related analytical tools; methods to interpret geophysical models; well completion and integrity for long-term CO2 storage; and CO2 capture.
Overall the project will make a vital contribution to the scientific, technical, and institutional knowledge necessary to establish the trained workforce needed for commercial-scale CCUS. The expected outcome of this project is to provide students with relevant skill sets prior to employment in the EOR or CO2 storage fields. These skill sets will enable students to reduce the time, training, and effort necessary to effectively contribute and independently manage CO2 projects with a minimum of supervision. The training will also provide an overview of the history and current EOR operations taking place in the Permian Basin.
The primary objective of the DOE’s Carbon Storage Program is to develop technologies to safely and permanently store CO2 and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions without adversely affecting energy use or hindering economic growth. The Programmatic goals of Carbon Storage research are: (1) estimating CO2 storage capacity in geologic formations; (2) demonstrating that 99 percent of injected CO2 remains in the injection zone(s); (3) improving efficiency of storage operations; and (4) developing Best Practices Manuals (BPMs). This project will complement programmatic goals by creating a modular CO2 and EOR storage curriculum at the university level. The curriculum will be used in petroleum geoscience, engineering, and land management senior-undergraduate and graduate level classes, symposia, and field seminars to develop the critical skill sets needed to prepare students for future careers in CO2 storage related industries.
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