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Drilling to Begin Sunday at Carbon Storage Project Site


April 22, 2011 — The first phase of the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project (WY-CUSP) will reach a milestone Sunday with the start of drilling on the Rock Springs Uplift in Sweetwater County.

The $16.9 million WY-CUSP Phase I project, managed by the Carbon Management Institute (CMI) at the University of Wyoming and co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, could lay the groundwork for Wyoming's first successful carbon capture and storage project and position the state as a global leader in CO₂ (carbon dioxide) sequestration efforts.

Drilling the 2,000-foot top hole, the first stage of a 14,000-foot stratigraphic test well, will be conducted by Baker Hughes, an industry partner on the project. It will take between 30 and 60 hours to complete. The remainder of drilling will begin once a large rig is on-site and take about 100 days.

"The start of drilling at the WY-CUSP site represents the first concrete step toward actual demonstration and commercialization of CO₂ sequestration in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain region. For the first time, we'll have the data necessary to substantially reduce uncertainty surrounding CO₂ storage on the Rock Springs Uplift," says CMI Director Ron Surdam. "Results from drilling will help us address a wide variety of issues related to geologic CO₂ storage -- both for specific reservoir targets in Wyoming and for similar potential storage reservoirs across the U.S. and around the world."

He adds, "The UW Carbon Management Institute is excited to spearhead a project with such profound implications for CO₂ storage. The institute aims to keep UW at the forefront of carbon storage science and engineering."

The project's initial phase began in December 2009 and is scheduled for completion in December 2012. It will produce a detailed characterization of two deep saline aquifers in the Rock Springs Uplift for potential pilot- and commercial-scale CO₂ sequestration.

Preliminary data from prior research indicates that the Rock Springs Uplift could store 26 billion tons of CO₂ over 50 years. It has been targeted for carbon storage due to the geological setting and its proximity to some the state's largest sources of anthropogenic CO₂.

The CMI oversees the WY-CUSP project on behalf of researchers, administrators and staff from UW, the Wyoming State Geological Survey and industry partners Baker Hughes, Geokinetics, Emtek and ExxonMobil.

For more information on the CMI, call Meg Ewald at (307) 766-6796 or e-mail mewald@uwyo.edu.

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