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Industry Partners Emerge to Aid UW's Carbon Sequestration Efforts

December 15, 2009

The University of Wyoming has received support from four industry partners in a $16.9 million project to provide geologic site characterization for commercial-scale carbon sequestration in southwestern Wyoming.

Three partners -- Baker Hughes, Inc., EMTEK Energy and Geokinetics -- are contributing about $4.3 million in critical services, including geophysical site surveys and well design, drilling and logging, says project director Carol Frost, the university's associate vice president for research and economic development. A fourth partner, ExxonMobil Corp., is sharing data and lessons learned from its carbon dioxide injection activities at Shute Creek.

"The support from industry is essential to the success of this project," Frost says. "The extensive experience these companies bring enables us to make rapid progress toward readiness for commercial-scale carbon dioxide sequestration. They have capabilities that complement the expertise of our research team."

UW has committed $6.3 million to the project from funds allocated to the university by the Wyoming State Legislature for carbon sequestration research. The Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory has awarded an additional $5 million. The university and the Wyoming State Geological Survey are also making in-kind contributions of time and effort.

The deep saline aquifers in the Rock Springs Uplift (RSU) and the Moxa Arch, located adjacent to several of the state's largest sources of anthropogenic carbon dioxide -- including two power plants that annually produce nearly 40 percent of the state's emissions, and ExxonMobil's gas processing plant -- represent the state's most promising targets for sequestration.

According to preliminary data from UW and the Wyoming State Geological Survey, the two geologic structures are capable of storing Wyoming's current carbon dioxide emissions for many centuries, says Frost.

"Wyoming supplies 10 percent of our nation's energy, and 70 percent of that energy supplied from coal, which releases more carbon dioxide per unit energy than oil or gas," Frost says. "Geologic sequestration is essential to continued use of this major domestic energy source while making progress toward meeting President Obama's energy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Baker Hughes, the world's third-largest oilfield services company, provides products and services for drilling, formation evaluation, completion, production and reservoir consulting. In addition to providing expertise and innovative well logging, the company is contributing 30 percent of the cost of drilling the initial research well on the RSU.

EMTEK AS, a provider of electromagnetic technologies and services, offering onshore EM in the United States and internationally, is contributing $500,000 of a $1 million electromagnetic survey of the site.

Geokinetics provides three-dimensional seismic acquisition and seismic data processing services to the land-based oil and gas industry in the U.S. The company is contributing $300,000 toward the cost of a seismic survey of the RSU site. Together with the electromagnetic survey, the seismic data provide baseline data essential to modeling the reservoirs and assessing the site's capacity for carbon sequestration.


Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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