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Drilling Complete at WY-CUSP Site in Southwestern Wyoming


September 13, 2011 — The University of Wyoming Carbon Management Institute (CMI) and industry partner Baker Hughes have finished drilling and collecting data from a 12,810-foot-deep stratigraphic test well designed to help researchers evaluate southwestern Wyoming's Rock Springs Uplift as a potential geological carbon dioxide (CO₂) storage site.

The $16.9 million Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project (WY-CUSP), managed by CMI 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.

CMI recovered 912 feet of core from the well, significantly more than the planned 720 feet. PetroArc International, a Houston-based high-resolution imaging firm, is now photographing the core sections at CMI's office in Laramie. WY-CUSP researchers will perform additional analyses once the core has been logged and photographed, paying special attention to any fractures in the rock formations.

"CMI is excited to move forward with data analysis," says Shanna Dahl, the institute's deputy director. "We will begin examining and interpreting the information obtained from the well, which will allow us to better evaluate the Rock Springs Uplift's potential for safe, long-term CO₂ storage."

Additionally, project scientists will study a comprehensive wireline log suite from the test well, fluid samples collected from the potential CO₂ storage reservoirs and results of microfrac testing of the storage reservoirs and primary sealing formation.

The data logs will provide information about the porosity, permeability, geologic structure, and other characteristics of the storage and sealing formations at the site.

Researchers will analyze fluid samples for trace elements, alkalinity, hardness and many other parameters. These data, along with laboratory test results, will help determine whether CO₂ will dissolve in formation fluids and/or react with compounds present in the storage reservoirs to form minerals. Microfrac tests of the storage reservoirs and primary seal will allow CMI to evaluate the strength of the rock layers comprising the various formations.

The Baker Hughes crew began to disassemble the drilling rig Aug. 30. All equipment has since been removed from the site; the well has been temporarily capped, but can be accessed later if necessary.

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 from prior research indicate 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 emissions.

The CMI manages the WY-CUSP program on behalf of researchers, administrators and staff from UW, and industry partners Baker Hughes, Geokinetics, Emtek and ExxonMobil.

For more information on the Carbon Management Institute, call Meg Ewald at (307) 766-6796 or email mewald@uwyo.edu.

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