The maturing carbon market is a major driver for carbon capture, utilization and storage projects. Both the subsurface technical knowledge and related data sets of the petroleum industry are major inputs required for the world to successfully move toward a carbon-neutral and sustainable energy future. To that end, one of the goals of the Division of Environmental Geosciences in representing AAPG is to promote what petroleum geologists can offer during an evolving energy future. DEG’s journal, Environmental Geosciences, is publishing a two-part special edition (March and June 2020) to bring forth the latest work in CCUS and to reach the broader stakeholder community looking at large scale carbon dioxide management.
CCUS is a growing interest of the past two decades due to the desire to decrease CO2 emissions and to make industrial sources more sustainable. More recently, policy instruments such as the expanded 45Q federal tax credits – up to $35 per tonne for enhanced oil recovery and $50 for storage – and carbon credit mechanisms under the low carbon fuel standard along the United States’ West Coast are providing opportunities that offset the CCUS deployment costs. The Department of Energy funded research and development on CCUS, such as the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships, and CarbonSafe projects have diligently demonstrated the feasibility, safety and economic benefits of CCUS across major basins in North America and are leading the path to deployment.
The United States leads the world in CCUS deployment today with about 80 percent of the world’s CO2 capture capacity, but this is less than 1 percent of the U.S. CO2 emissions from stationary sources. Increasing deployment can deliver benefits and favorably position the United States to participate in new market opportunities as the world shifts to a lower carbon energy system.
The Role of Petroleum Geologists
Where do petroleum geologists come into play?
The technology and methodologies developed by the oil and gas industry are directly applicable in characterizing storage formations, caprocks, development of representative models, monitoring, and ensuring the safe construction of injection sites. Petroleum geologists are uniquely suited to evaluate candidate storage formations and EOR fields for CCUS programs, including using vast amounts of industry data for qualifying new storage projects.
How does this benefit the petroleum industry?
Given the world’s reliance on fossil-fuels for the next decades, CCUS offers a path to sustainable development within the petroleum industry and to meet increasingly stiff emission regulations. The near-term use of CO2 for EOR also helps maximize production of stranded oil, thus reducing the environmental footprint relative to field development. Finally, the petroleum industry is uniquely qualified to deploy large-scale geological storage commercially while creating an additional revenue stream.
The Environmental Geosciences special edition highlights current work related to CCUS and demonstrates the ongoing need for skills of petroleum geologists and engineers to help define this future of carbon management.