Plan to study CO2 sequestration moving forward

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Montana State University and three industrial partners are moving forward with an eight-year carbon storage project in north-central Montana.

The Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership has $67 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and $18 million in private funding for the project, which seeks to demonstrate that large amounts of carbon dioxide can be safely stored underground for long periods of time.

Carbon storage is seen as one possible way to help stabilize global carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.

The work will involve pumping one million tons of carbon dioxide from a naturally occurring reservoir near Sunburst, piping it to a similar rock formation about six miles away and re-injecting the gas.

During the first two years, the partnership will be obtaining permits, doing background monitoring, drilling wells and constructing the pipeline. The next four years will involve injecting the natural gas into the new formation between 3,500 and 4,000 feet below the surface. The final two years will involve continued monitoring.

The key to carbon storage is finding a rock formation with porous rock that can store the carbon dioxide that is topped by a cap rock that will hold it in place.

“Since we are getting the (carbon dioxide) from a naturally occurring source, we can learn from nature how (it) has been stored safely in rock formations for millions of years,” said Lee Spangler, partnership director. “This grant will enable us to learn about the transportation, injection and monitoring of (carbon dioxide) in an engineered system.”