The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy launched the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program in 2003 to develop and validate carbon capture and storage technologies as part of a national strategy to minimize global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Seven regional partnerships form the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to place carbon capture and storage technologies on the path to commercialization. Each of the partnerships works with local organizations and citizens who contribute expertise, experience and perspectives that represent the concerns and wishes of a given region. To date, nearly two dozen small-scale CO2 storage field verification tests are in progress nationwide or have been completed by these partnerships. This research is providing an essential foundation for monitoring, measuring and verifying storage of CO2 in the subsurface at a commercial scale. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) envisions having a technology portfolio of safe, cost effective, commercial-scale greenhouse gas capture, storage and mitigation technologies available for commercial deployment beginning in 2020. NETL's Carbon Sequestration Program contributes significantly to the President's goal of developing technologies to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions without adversely influencing energy use or hindering economic growth.
The West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB), led by the California Energy Commission, comprises researchers from more than 70 public agencies, private companies, and nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada. WESTCARB’s goal is to identify and map the regional opportunities for geologic and terrestrial carbon sequestration. WESTCARB also seeks to validate the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of some of the best regional opportunities through pilot-scale field tests.
WESTCARB's territory includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, and the province of British Columbia.
The WESTCARB Region accounts for approximately 11 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Based on 1999 EPA emission inventories from fuel combustion for the WESTCARB Region, transportation accounts for 53 percent, and industry and utilities 36 percent of the emissions within the Region. Emissions from the transportation sector are somewhat higher than the national average, while those of the utility sector are lower. California ranks second among all states in CO2 emissions, with the transportation sector accounting for the majority of the state’s total. The significant percentage from industrial sources motivates analysis of industrial stationary sources along with power plants in assessing geologic sequestration options. The largest stationary sources in the Region are power plants, oil refineries, and cement and lime plants.
Sedimentary basins containing saline formations are broadly distributed throughout the WESTCARB Region.
Initial WESTCARB assessments indicate that California’s Cenozoic marine sediments possess the most potential for geologic sequestration. As a group, these basins exhibit a wide areal distribution, thick sedimentary sections containing multiple widespread saline-saturated sandstones, thick and laterally persistent shale seals, and petrophysical data available through oil and gas development. The most promising basins include the San Joaquin, Sacramento, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Eel River basins. Smaller marine basins, including the Salinas, La Honda, Cuyama, Livermore, Orinda, and Sonoma basins, are also promising but more restricted in terms of size and available geological information. The total storage capacity of the 10 most promising basins is approximately 75–300 billion metric tons (83–330 billion tons) CO2. Most of California’s nonmarine basins are too shallow for carbon sequestration, however, the large Salton Trough and several smaller nonmarine basins may offer some opportunities.
In the WESTCARB Region, major oil and gas fields represent both sequestration targets and EOR/EGR opportunities—especially in California.
In California, most oil reservoirs are found in the southern San Joaquin Basin, Los Angeles Basin, and southern coastal basins. Estimates made by WESTCARB investigators suggest a potential CO2 EOR storage of 3.4 billion metric tons (3.7 billion tons), based on a screening of reservoirs using depth, an American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity cutoff, and cumulative oil produced. A study of CO2 EOR potential in California recently completed by Advanced Resources International concluded that technically recoverable reserves are over 0.3 million m3 (5.6 billion barrels). There are abundant gas reservoirs in the Sacramento River Delta, including the Rio Vista gas field which has produced over 99 million m3 (3.5 trillion ft3) of gas since the 1930s. To estimate the CO2 sequestration potential in California gas reservoirs, the cumulative production from reservoirs screened by depth to assure proper storage pressure was used to find a storage capacity of 1.7 billion metric tons (1.9 billion tons).
WESTCARB will perform three geologic sequestration pilot tests and two CO2 storage investigations within its region.
Two geologic CO2 sequestration pilot tests, collectively referred to as the Rosetta Resources CO2 Storage Project, will be performed in the southern part of the Sacramento River Basin in the Central Valley of California. The Central Valley, composed of the Sacramento River Basin in the north and the San Joaquin River Basin in the south, contains numerous saline formations and oil and gas reservoirs that could be used for geologic storage of CO2. These Central Valley saline formations are estimated to have a storage capacity of 50–200 billion metric tons (55–220 billion tons) of CO2, representing a potential reservoir of thousands of years of emissions within the southern Sacramento River Basin near the proposed pilot site. The first pilot test will inject up to 1,000 metric tons (1,100 tons) of CO2 into a saline formation below the Thornton Gas Field. The second test will inject about 500 metric tons (550 tons) of CO2 into a depleting compartment of the Thornton Gas Field and assess the extent to which gas recovery can be enhanced due to reservoir pressurization and displacement of methane by CO2.