Virginia project studies CO2 coal seam storage, potential CBM recovery

A team of regional partners has begun to inject carbon dioxide into Virginia coal seams to determine whether it can be stored there and potentially produce coalbed methane, the US Department of Energy said on Feb. 11.

The study's results will help assess carbon storage in coal seams' potential as a safe and permanent greenhouse gas emission mitigation method while enhancing natural gas production, DOE's Fossil Energy Office said.

It said that DOE's Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB) began injecting CO2 at the Russell County, Va., test site in mid-January. An existing CBM well was previously converted for CO2 injection and two wells were drilled to monitor reservoir pressure, gas composition and the CO2 plume, it added.

The targeted coal seams are in the Pocahontas and Lee formations and range from 1,400 to 2,200 feet deep and from 0.7 to 3 feet thick, the DOE division said. One thousands of tons will be injected into the seams over 45 days, it indicated.

The Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg is coordinating the project. It is working with the well's operator, Pittsburgh-based CNX Gas Corp.; the mineral owner, Buckhorn Coal Co.; and supply vendors including Praxair Inc. and Denbury Resources Inc., according to Dr. Michael Karnis, the center's director.

A team from DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory also worked with the Virginia Tech group and Marshall Miller and Associates researchers to establish baseline measurements and develop a comprehensive monitoring program, he noted.

DOE's Fossil Energy Office said that its regional carbon sequestration partnerships, which began in 2003, now include seven groups made up of state agencies, universities, companies and non-profit organizations which try to find the best approaches for capturing and storing CO2.

Contact Nick Snow at

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