The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences releases Seismic Report
The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences released a report on June 15, 2012 entitled "Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies." This report addresses potential induced (human-made) seismicity caused by such energy technologies as Geothermal Fluid Production, Enhanced Oil Recovery, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
The report finds that only a very small fraction of injection and extraction activities at hundreds-of-thousands of energy development sites in the United States have induced seismicity at levels that are detectable by humans. The report points out, however, that no large-volume CCS storage sites have been developed and tested.
The NRC report goes on to note the need for significant amounts of continued research on the potential for induced seismicity in large, commercial-scale CCS projects. However, the report highlights the importance of what it classifies as small-scale research projects currently underway, such as the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project (IBDP) that will provide important field data and lead to the development of best practices.
The IBDP team offers the following points regarding the NRC report:
- We concur with the reports finding that continued research is needed on the potential for induced seismicity in large-scale CCS projects. As highlighted in this report, the IBDP is carrying out exactly the kind of research being called for and we expect to make significant contributions to meeting the research needs defined in the report as we collect data over the three-year injection period which started in November 2011.
- The report points out that research projects should consider induced seismicity before and during actual operation of an energy project. The IBDP has done exactly that by deploying state-of-the art instrumentation to monitor the project site and be able to contribute to best practices protocols specific to CCS. As noted on page 88 of the report, IBDP detected seismic activity unrelated to the project providing corroboration that the monitoring equipment is fully operational.
- The report indicates that new information is needed to better predict induced seismicity including theoretical modeling and actual field measurements. By injecting small volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into a well-characterized reservoir, IBDP is in a position to contribute the critical field measurements called for in this report.
- The report points out that CCS which does not cause a significant increase in pore pressure above its original value will likely minimize the potential for inducing seismic events. Good permeability and a thick reservoir with high storage capacity help to minimize pore pressure increases and this is exactly the type of reservoir represented by the Mt. Simon Sandstone and the IBDP at Decatur, Illinois.
- The report makes a series of research recommendations regarding data collection, instrumentation and modeling that the authors would like to see carried out. The IBDP is acting in each of these areas. We are collecting high quality field observations of very small microseismic events. We have deployed novel instrumentation deep in the subsurface to collect these data. Further, we are integrating these data with our reservoir and geomechanical models to more fully understand the very small level of induced microseismicity we have seen to-date.
- The report notes that the potential for microseismic events is related to the maximum induced pore pressure. And the induced pore pressure dissipates rapidly with increased permeability. The Mt. Simon Sandstone at a depth of 7,000 feet has excellent permeability, much better than many oil reservoirs in the Illinois Basin and this condition works to reduce the risk of microseismic activity while we are collecting critical data at our Decatur site.
- We are pleased that the report describes the work we are doing at Decatur and points to the fact that we are carrying out microseismic monitoring both in the injection well itself and in a specially drilled geophysical monitoring well. This monitoring will be continued throughout the period of injection and for three years after injection in order to assure that we thoroughly understand any microseismic events that might be related to our test project.
- The report notes that the National Energy Technology Laboratory has found that no harmful induced seismicity has been associated with any of the global CCS storage demonstration projects as of February 2011. We agree that all storage projects need to continue to monitor and address this issue throughout the life of CCS projects.
The IBDP expects to continue to provide critical CCS field data and modeling while contributing to the development of best practices as recommended by the National Research Council. Our goal as always remains the operation of a safe and comprehensive project at Decatur, Illinois, a site that was selected after more than three years of research to qualify the site prior to injection of CO2
Full report available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13355
ISGS-led consortium begins injection of CO2 for storage at the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project
First U.S. large demonstration-scale injection of CO2 from a biofuel production facility begins
The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) has begun injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) for the first million-tonne demonstration of carbon sequestration in the U.S. The CO2 will be stored permanently in the Mt. Simon Sandstone more than a mile beneath the Illinois surface at Decatur. The MGSC is led by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.
"Establishing long-term, environmentally safe and secure underground CO2 storage is a critical component in achieving successful commercial deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology," said Chuck McConnell, Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE). "This injection test project by MGSC, as well as those undertaken by other FE regional partnerships, are helping confirm the great potential and viability of permanent geologic storage as an important option in climate change mitigation strategies."
MGSC is one of seven regional partnerships created by the DOE to advance technologies nationwide for capturing and permanently storing greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
“I want to congratulate the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, the Prairie Research Institute, ADM, and the other partners on this leading-edge demonstration project that has brought the future of clean energy research and technology to the state of Illinois today,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. “We are poised to reap the economic and environmental benefits that this public-private partnership has produced. This successful project gives Illinois a competitive advantage to attract green businesses and address our climate change responsibilities.”
“We are enthusiastic as we reach the operational stage of our project. The analysis of data collected beginning in 2003 indicates that the lower Mt. Simon Sandstone has the necessary geological characteristics to be an excellent injection target for safe and effective storage of CO2,” said Robert J. Finley, PhD, director and leader of ISGS’s sequestration team. The $96 million Illinois Basin – Decatur Project was funded in 2007 and now marks the beginning of the injection of 1 million metric tonnes of CO2 over the next three years.
“Reaching the injection phase of this project is a major milestone in sequestration technology world-wide and for the State of Illinois,” said Prairie Research Institute Executive Director, William W. Shilts, PhD. “Four years of effort are coming to fruition at a site with unique capabilities, some of them first-in-the-world with respect to the extensive subsurface monitoring system. It’s a strategic investment in Illinois’ future.” Visitors from Australia, China, Norway, Spain, and Japan have already visited the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project and they expect to welcome more of the international sequestration research community over the next several years, Shilts noted.
The CO2 is being captured from the fermentation process used to produce ethanol at Archer Daniels Midland Company’s (ADM) corn processing complex. It is compressed into a dense-liquid to facilitate the injection process and permanent storage at a depth of 7,000 feet, according to Finley. The Mt. Simon Sandstone is the thickest and most widespread saline reservoir in the Illinois Basin, which covers two-thirds of Illinois and reaches into western Indiana and western Kentucky. The estimated CO2 storage capacity of the Mt. Simon is 11 to 151 billion metric tonnes, and it is below several layers of shale that serve as an impermeable cap rock to hold the CO2 in place, Finley added.
This demonstration project is part of the Development Phase of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program, a DOE Office of Fossil Energy initiative launched in 2003 to determine the best approaches for capturing and permanently storing greenhouse gases that can contribute to global climate change.
The Illinois State Geological Survey manages the MGSC project. ISGS characterized the regional geology that led to selection of the Decatur site and is investigating the characteristics of the Mt. Simon reservoir and the overlying shale seal that retains the CO2. The Survey is conducting one of the most extensive environmental monitoring programs of any sequestration site in the world. The project is permitted under requirements of both the Illinois and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies as the first large demonstration-scale injection of CO2 from a biofuel production facility anywhere in the U.S.
Schlumberger Carbon Services is providing full project management for the design and construction of all wells associated with the storage and deep monitoring parts of the project. Drilling of the injection well in 2009 confirmed suitability of the site and was followed by a seismic survey, a geophysical monitoring well, and a pressure and fluid sampling (verification) well, all in 2010. Completion of the verification well was followed by two rounds of initial fluid sampling to thoroughly document pre-injection reservoir conditions.