Baker Hughes resumes carbon storage test well

After completing the first 2,000 feet of the “test” phase in April, Baker Hughes, Inc., will soon resume drilling the remaining 10,000 feet of a stratigraphic test well on the Rock Springs Uplift in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, as part of a multi-partner effort to test commercial carbon dioxide storage.

Of the 10 site characterization studies partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009, the University of Wyoming-led “Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project” is the first to start drilling a test well, according to UW officials.

“We are very excited to move into this stage of the project,” said Shanna Dahl, deputy director of UW’s Carbon Management Institute. “The project pace will accelerate significantly, allowing us to collect the well data necessary to continue to evaluate the Rock Springs Uplift as a potential commercial CO2 storage site.”

Detailed characterization of two deep saline aquifers in the Rock Springs Uplift for potential pilot- and commercial-scale CO? storage is expected to be completed in December 2012. Preliminary data, according to UW officials, shows the Rock Springs Uplift could store 26 billion tons of CO2 over 50 years. State and industry partners chose the Rock Springs Uplift location due to both the underground geology and because of its close proximity to “some the state’s largest sources of anthropogenic CO² emissions,” which includes Rocky Mountain Power’s Jim Bridger  coal-fired power plant just a few stone-throws away from the test well.

The plant emits about 18 million tons of CO2 annually. While some criticize underground carbon storage as dangerous, it represents a multi-pronged effort by Wyoming to advance technologies that might keep coal a viable fuel in a low-carbon-policy future. The National Center for Atmospheric Research super-computing center is under construction in Cheyenne, which will provide important modeling for carbon sequestration at the Rock Springs Uplift.

The University of Wyoming and GE Energy partnered to build the $100 million High Plains Gasification-Advanced Technology Center near Cheyenne, which will help researchers developer a cheaper way to gasify Powder River Basin coal.

— Contact Dustin Bleizeffer at 307-577-6069 or dustin@wyofile.com.

Dustin Bleizeffer

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 22 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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