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Carbon Storage Project Moves into Deep-Drilling Phase

June 10, 2011
Drilling rig
Deep drilling will begin in the next few days at the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project's (WY-CUSP) stratigraphic test well on the Rock Springs Uplift in Sweetwater County. (Scott Thomas, Baker Hughes, Inc.)

Drilling of the remaining 12,000 feet of the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project's (WY-CUSP) stratigraphic test well on the Rock Springs Uplift in Sweetwater County will begin in the next few days.

Baker Hughes, Inc., an industry partner on the project, obtained a large drilling rig to complete the well and will manage operations at the test well site during drilling. The large rig is onsite and personnel from Baker Hughes are preparing to start drilling.

During drilling, which will take about 100 days to finish, project researchers will collect core samples and other data necessary to evaluate the Rock Springs Uplift's potential as a commercial carbon dioxide (CO₂) storage site. In late April, Baker Hughes drilled the first 2,000 feet of the test well, known as the top hole, with a small air drill rig.

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 sequestration efforts.

Of the 10 site characterization studies funded by DOE in 2009, WY-CUSP is the first to start drilling a test well.

"We are very excited to move into this stage of the project," says CMI Deputy Director Shanna Dahl. "The project pace will accelerate significantly, allowing us to collect the well data necessary to continue to evaluate the Rock Springs Uplift as a potential commercial CO₂ storage site. Project researchers will begin additional data analysis and interpretation as soon as the data becomes available from the stratigraphic test well. This is an important step toward keeping Wyoming at the forefront of CCS technology."

The project 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 storage.

Preliminary data shows 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 emissions.

The CMI manages 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

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