A partnership led by science and technology company Battelle has begun a large-scale carbon dioxide injection test in Michigan oil fields as part of a national effort to develop carbon capture methods.
The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership is conducting the test program. MRCSP is one of seven such regional partnerships in the US established by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
The Battelle-led multi-year effort will test and further develop the best approaches to CO2 capture and storage in MRCSP’s nine-state region in the Midwest and Northeast US. Earlier phases of the program completed by MRCSP industry and research members included smaller-scale testing and mapping of geologic formations across the region.
The current project in Michigan is designed to inject and monitor at least 1 million metric tons of CO2 into a series of oil fields that are in different stages of their production lifecycles.
The first test in the series will inject up to 500,000 metric tons of CO2 into a depressurized, late-stage oil field that has undergone primary production and enhanced oil recovery for several years and is now near the end of its productive life. Such late-stage fields are ideal for conducting research on monitoring and modeling of CO2 storage and evaluating incremental production of residual oil still trapped in the pore spaces, MRCSP says.
During the last year, Battelle’s MRCSP team has worked with Core Energy, the owner and operator of the oil fields, to conduct baseline geologic characterization and advanced monitoring and to prepare the wells for the injection phase. These fields already are permitted for injection as part of the routine enhanced oil recovery operations. In this first leg of the field test, MRCSP expects injection rates of approximately 1,000 metric tons of CO2 per day.
MRCSP will track the CO2 and quantify the amount that is retained in the formation after the oil is removed — during and after the active injection phase.
The CO2 will be injected into the geologic structures known as the northern Niagaran pinnacle reef trend. These oil fields comprise closely spaced but highly compartmentalized ancient coral reefs buried about 6,000 feet below the ground surface. This reef trend formed millions of years ago when the area was under an ocean in a setting similar to what is now observed in the Great Barrier Reef.