More on carbon capture and storage

As with any energy topic, there’s much more to be said than can fit in a 25-inch newspaper story. That was the case with the story we ran Saturday on carbon sequestration at a site in nearby Dayton, Tex.

Sue Hovorka shows how carbon sequestration works on a model. Note the reporter’s pen in the foreground.

For starters, we had to cut the story from the bottom due to space, leaving out a few paragraphs about the legal liabilities of carbon storage that Kinder Morgan’s Tim Bradley discussed.
Bradley said before companies rush in to start accepting CO2 shipments from power plants etc. they will likely want laws to limit their legal liability if there were leaks from an underground storage site for reasons beyond their control. A framework that said “if you use certain techniques for injection and storage, meet certain quality standards for equipment, monitoring, etc.” the project operator can’t be sued if some CO2 eventually makes it to the surface.
Bradley also noted there’s a shortage of workers who have used CO2 injections for enhanced oil recovery work. The industry has done it for decades but in the 1990s many companies left the business and put those engineers to work on other projects. While there are plenty of places along the Gulf Coast where CO2 flooding of older oil formations could work well, it’s not easy.
One reader was confused by a paragraph in the story about the project that Sue Hovorka and Tip Meckel will do this fall:

That’s when they will begin working with Denbury Resources to inject 1 million tons of CO2, or roughly the annual output of a coal-fired power plant, into an underground formation in Mississippi.

To be clear, that’s not the actual output from a coal plant but an approximate equivalent. They will most likely be using CO2 from a natural source, like the Jackson Dome formation in Mississippi. BTW, one of the reasons the Frio Brine site wouldn’t be good for a test of holding large quantities of CO2 is the large number of wells drilled on the site — more than 70, which would all need to be monitored to ensure the validity of the testing. That’s expensive for researchers on limited budgets to do.
Hovorka and Meckel are also careful to point out they are working with many others on this project and their research is just one of many projects around the country. Here’s the link to the Gulf Coast Carbon Center which is the umbrella for much of their work, and here’s a link to the Department of Energy’s carbon sequestration site, which includes a link to a program with potential impact on Texas, FutureGen, an effort to build a coal-fired power plant to that emits no CO2 to the atmosphere. There are two Texas sites on the short list of possible sites.