Carbon Storage Atlas

The Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration



Regional Accomplishments

Most of the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration’s (SWP) Phase III work centered on the Farnsworth Unit (FWU) field site. Some of that work evolved to incorporate a larger regional view. One study used commercially available 2D seismic lines to tie together 3D surveys from two of the Morrow fields (Farnsworth and Booker) in the Texas panhandle to examine the overall tectonic evolution of this portion of the western Anadarko basin in the context of petroleum systems modeling. Model outputs included thermal evolution of the basin, pressure, porosity, permeability of formations, maturation, oil migration pathways, and oil composition in the region. The models predicted that the regional geologic migration risk of carbon dioxide (CO2) is low, with limited dispersion to the northwest – northeast. No regional-scale faults have been identified, and numerous sub-surface sealing horizons across the region are laterally continuous. The upper Morrowan reservoir hydrocarbons in this part of the Anadarko Basin are not dominantly sourced locally, but are generally sourced basinward, from the Thirteen Finger and upper Morrowan Black Shales. Paleo-downward primary migration paths of hydrocarbons through the Thirteen Finger Limestone and upper Morrowan Shale into Morrowan reservoirs are not likely risks for present-day CO2 migration through primary pore structures. Ongoing studies focused on refining the tectonic evolution of the western part of the Anadarko basin, including timing and significance of faulting. Likewise, work on identifying the provenance of reservoir rocks within FWU and their influence on reservoir diagenesis was conducted; this exerts strong controls on reservoir performance for primary, secondary, and tertiary recovery.


Story of Interest

One of the most notable aspects of the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration’s (SWP) Phase III project at the Farnsworth Unit (FWU) field site is that all of the carbon dioxide (CO2) used at the site is anthropogenic, from multiple sources. Carbon dioxide at the site is sourced from an ethanol plant in southern Kansas and a fertilizer plant located near Borger, Texas. FWU is one of a handful of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects in the country that is using anthropogenic CO2 for EOR. Although the amount of CO2 used by this project is relatively small, over the course of the EOR project, FWU operators have injected more than 1.5 million metric tons of CO2, recovering an additional 4.9 million barrels of oil, while permanently storing more than 90% of the injected CO2. The CO2-EOR project has extended the life of FWU, a field that most likely would have been abandoned within a few years, while at the same time has provided an economic incentive to two sources of CO2 to capture and reuse an otherwise waste stream.



Research vs. Commercial

The Farnsworth Unit (FWU) field site project has been the subject of intensive academic research, generating significant data and work toward answering fundamental scientific questions that would likely not have been undertaken at any commercial site. The project drilled three characterization wells, obtaining modern log suites and approximately 229 meters (~750 feet) of core that includes the interval from reservoir base through the upper Morrow shale seal, and much of the overlying Thirteen Finger limestone. The cores have undergone extensive study and testing, including static and dynamic geomechanical and geochemical analyses. The petrophysical logs were extensively analyzed and were critical for sedimentological studies and geologic model development. All the data have been used in multiple generations of increasingly sophisticated 3D geological reservoir models that evaluate plume movement, risk analysis, operational optimization, and more. The Site Characterization Phase of the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration (SWP) project can serve as a blueprint for commercial sites that normally would devote less effort to characterization, doing the minimum work necessary to provide the data required by the various regulatory agencies and economic underwriters. At a commercial site, it is possible that more effort would be put into long-term monitoring, reporting, and accounting efforts, as the operator would be responsible to stakeholders with those interests at heart.



Tech Transfer

Technology transfer efforts during Phase III have included publications in scholarly journals, trade journals, and hundreds of presentations at conferences and events, as well as participation in a variety of National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and other efforts. One major effort was the participation of Dr. Robert Balch in the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Distinguished Lecture Program in the 2017-2018 season. His talk, “The Intersection of Environment and EOR: How Carbon Capture is Changing Tertiary Recovery,” was presented at 32 locations. In addition, Dr. Balch serves as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) representative and expert on carbon storage to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee TC265, “Carbon dioxide capture, transportation, and geological storage.” Many of the senior researchers at the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration (SWP) have participated in organizational efforts and meetings designed to further the knowledge and adoption of carbon capture and storage (CCS)/carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) in the United States and elsewhere.




  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  • University of Utah
  • University of Missouri (Mizzou)
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratories
  • Los Alamos National Laboratories
  • Schlumberger & Schlumberger Carbon Services
  • Chaparral Energy LLC