Regional CCS partnership gathers core samples for large-volume test

Core samples are being collected for what could be one of North America's first commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration projects using a saline acquifer, the US Department of Energy's Fossil Energy Office said.

It said that the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership (PCOR), one of seven members of DOE's regional carbon sequestration partnerships program, is collecting core samples from a new characterization well near Spectra Energy Corp.'s Fort Nelson natural gas processing plant in British Columbia.

Plans call for the injection of more than 2 million tons/year of CO2 as part of the project, an international collaboration which includes Natural Resources Canada and British Columbia's government as well as Spectra, the PCOR partnership and DOE, the Fossil Energy office said. It said that this will be one of the world's largest CSS projects.

Core sampling and well logging help determine a site's geologic suitability for safe and permanent CO2 storage, according to DOE, Coring of the Elk Point rock formations at Fort Nelson will provide researchers, geologists, and reservoir experts with characterization data of the carbonate formations that will be used to store the CO2 and the impermeable shale layers above that will act as a cap rock to contain the CO2. Numerous geo-mechanical and geochemical tests designed to evaluate the performance of the reservoir and containment rocks will be performed as part of these activities, it said.

Information collected from the core samples, together with tests and well logging, will be critical in developing simulation models and the anticipated design and implementation of CO2 injection, DOE said. The project is expected to eventually involve CO2 transportation from Spectra's Fort Nelson gas processing plant to the injection site, it added.

It said that to ensure the safe storage of CO2, the partnership would implement a comprehensive monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) plan. Drilling, coring, and injection all provide opportunities to develop a set of cost-effective MVA protocols which can be applied in other CO2 storage locations, it indicated.

DOE said that the project is one of two large-volume tests that the PCOR partnership is undertaking in the development phase of the DOE partnerships program, which focuses on large-volume carbon storage; the second test is planned for the Williston Basin in North Dakota. The partnership also is conducting four smaller-scale sequestration tests at locations across the Great Plains.

All of the projects share the program goal of developing the technology, infrastructure, and regulations to implement large-scale CO2 sequestration, DOE said. As an added benefit, the projects are supporting more than 400 jobs that will continue through 2017, it noted.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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