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New Book Describes WY-CUSP Carbon Storage Project

May 9, 2014
Man smiling
Ronald Surdam, retired director of UW’s Carbon Management Institute, is the editor of a new book that chronicles the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project in southwest Wyoming. (UW Photo)

A book edited by Ronald Surdam, the retired director of the University of Wyoming Carbon Management Institute (CMI), detailing a carbon dioxide storage project in southwest Wyoming has been released by a major national publisher of academic books.

Springer Publishing published the e-book as part of its Environmental Science and Engineering Book series. It is available here:

When then-Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal asked that a site for a high-priority carbon storage site in Wyoming be identified and thoroughly characterized so that the state would be ready when future carbon dioxide storage is required, the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project (WY-CUSP) launched.

For three and a half years, a small, diverse and accomplished team of geologists, geophysicists and support staff from CMI -- one of the centers of excellence in UW’s School of Energy Resources -- took the project from minimal regional data to a complete characterization of the Rock Springs Uplift as a certified commercial-level geological carbon dioxide storage site.

The trek is described in 14 chapters, culminating in the presentation of an integrated strategy for the detailed and accurate characterization of potential carbon dioxide storage reservoir and storage sites in Wyoming and elsewhere.

“The objective of the book is to positively affect and assist future global carbon dioxide storage and utilization projects,” Surdam says. “The book describes the trials and tribulations required to reach the ultimate goal: the delivery of a certified commercial geological carbon dioxide storage site that can be used either as a surge tank for carbon dioxide utilization or for permanent storage of greenhouse gas emissions, or both.”

Surdam retired as director of CMI in January, capping a long career in academia and public service. With degrees in geology from the University of California-Los Angeles, Surdam served as a faculty member in the UW Department of Geology for 32 years, retiring from that post in 1998. Before leaving the university, he had served as director of the Institute of Energy Research from 1993-1998.

He also served as director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute from 1997-1999. In 2004, he was appointed director of the Wyoming State Geological Survey, where he served until 2010. During his time there, he led the search for potential carbon sequestration sites in Wyoming, leading to the designation of the Rock Springs Uplift as an ideal site for carbon sequestration. At that time, he started work as the director of CMI.

The e-book details some of the challenges encountered in the project. Among them are state and federal permitting issues; difficulties related to acquiring and custom processing site-specific 3-D seismic data; drilling and coring a 12,900-foot-deep well; acquiring and interpreting a complete suite of electric logs; and correlation of petrophysical properties observed in the cores with seismic attributes.

These five tasks are critical to extrapolating key petrophysical properties from the well into the adjacent 3-D rock/fluid volume, Surdam says. An additional critical component is developing a strategy to manage displaced fluids and pressure during the injection of carbon dioxide.

Surdam notes the program’s accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of industry, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Wyoming State Legislature and state government agencies. Industry partners include Baker Hughes Inc.; TRUE Drilling Co. of Casper; Black Butte Coal Co.; Anadarko Oil and Gas Corp; and Geokinetics. Contributing state agencies include the Department of Environmental Quality; the State Engineer’s Office; the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; the Office of State Lands and Investments; the State Geological Survey; and UW.

“Continued industrialization and global expansion will require ever-increasing efforts to effectively manage anthropogenic emissions into the atmosphere,” Surdam says. “Without an exponential increase in the effort to manage greenhouse gas emissions, global improvements in the quality of life and standard of living will be extremely difficult.”

Surdam says the goal of the book is to help in expediting the global effort to develop energy resources while sustaining environmental quality.

“People interested in carbon management and utilization will find this book helpful in executing their own projects to provide economic energy, while minimizing the development of undesirable environmental footprints,” Surdam says.

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