Wednesday, March 9, 2011

CO2 Sequestration in Kansas? Good Idea or Bad?

Just over 3,000 feet below the South Central Kansas landscape and capped by up to hundreds and hundreds of feet of Permian evaporites there is a study on-going by the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) and others to assess the potential for CO2 sequestration in the depleting oil and gas formations of the Arbuckle Group.  Not only will the extensive and relatively thick formations be looked at as the possible storage vessel for manmade sources of CO2 for the mitigation of climate change, but the injections could also squeeze the last vestiges of oil and gas from within - a win-win situation - if all goes well.

KGS is working primarily from $9.9 million in grants from the Department of Energy on this $12.6 million project - slated to be done in December, 2012.  No injections will be made as this study is simply to assess the potential to use these formations if US policy embraces underground CO2 sequestration.  KGS seems to think there is a 600 year storage capacity here, and a good industry could be generated by this situation.  Several issues are under the gun, though:  Who owns the pore spaces in these deep formations?  How much CO2 can be stored within?  Will it stay contained over time?  Will it be an effective enhanced oil recovery process?  What chemical and physical reactions can we expect?  How will injected material attenuate over space and time?  And the list goes on.

The study materials are all neatly located on the KGS website for this project at this link.  Warning:  A close look at this site is NOT for the timid. There is a lot of material - technical and otherwise. Quite frankly, I was surprised to learn about the on-going and planned CO2 sequestration projects worldwide - and much more about the issues - international and domestic.  This site is worth some time if you have any interest at all. 


  1. Wayne - the issue of ownership of pore spaces has been getting some attention elsewhere the last few years too. I posted a short piece on the issue here - - in response to a post by Aquadoc. It's a pretty novel legal concept because oil and gas law is really more focused on what is in the pores, although with split estates, ownership of the subsurface should be just that. Of course what it's really about is who is on the hook if one of these storage facilities were to fail.
    Fun stuff. Glad you are paying attention.

  2. Chris: I was not aware of the legal arguments before looking at the KGS efforts here in Kansas. Your March, 2009 blog post was most interesting - and insightful. Great reference. It's another good day when you learn something new!

    The next time I see the KGS folks, I'll ask them where KS is on this issue. I've not seen it come up yet in the Legislature, where I assume it will need to be settled - until the inevitable case law clarifications occur. To your knowledge, has it been handled in any consistent way in other places - like Wyoming, Colorado, Pennsylvania...? I do see you point, however. It has to be about liability at the end of the day.

    Again, thanks so much for the comments and direction. WAB