Energy Resources Program
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
A database called the “Comprehensive Resource Database” (CRD) was prepared to support U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessments of technically recoverable hydrocarbons that might result from the injection of miscible or immiscible carbon dioxide (CO2) for enhanced oil...
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Monday, August 07, 2017
The Colorado Plateau hosts several large accumulations of naturally occurring, non-hydrocarbon gases, including CO2, N2, and the noble gases, making it a good field location to study the fluxes of these gases within the crust and to the atmosphere...
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
The U.S. Geological Survey has evaluated three methods for estimating how much oil and gas could be produced by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into petroleum reservoirs.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The use of carbon dioxide (CO2) injection for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) can prolong the productivity of many oil reservoirs and increase the U.S. hydrocarbon recoverable resource volume. The Utilization of Carbon and other Energy Gases project conducts science and produces reports to determine: how much additional oil could be produced if CO2 were widely available; if there is enough naturally occurring CO2 that could be produced to meet the needs for widespread EOR; and the ramifications of widespread CO2 injection for EOR or for emissions reduction. Some potential ramifications of widespread injection of CO2 that this project is addressing include, a) will it cause earthquakes, b) what is the potential for CO2 leakage, and c) what are the environmental risks of storing CO2 in underground reservoirs?
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of assessing national and global ground- and surface-water resources and geologically-based energy and mineral resources. In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, Public Law 110–140) authorized the USGS to conduct a national assessment of geologic storage resources for CO2. The results of the national assessment were published in 2013 (U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013). The EISA also requested the USGS to conduct an independent evaluation of the national technically recoverable hydrocarbon resources resulting from CO2 injection and storage (through CO2-enhanced oil recovery). The USGS assessment will build upon previous technical/economic evaluations conducted by industry, government, and academic organizations; however, the USGS assessments will be of the total technically recoverable hydrocarbon (oil) resources, and will not include a minimum economic cutoff. An economic analysis of CO2 storage resources and of the potential for recoverable hydrocarbons is needed to inform policy decision makers outside of the USGS.
Utilization of other energy-related gases such as CO2, helium (He), nitrogen (N2), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), if separated and concentrated from the produced natural gas stream, can make otherwise low-thermal (un-economic) natural gas deposits a viable part of the national natural gas resource base. A goal of the project is to better characterize and evaluate the resource potential of these low-thermal gases in U.S. reservoirs.
The Helium Stewardship Act (HSA, Public Law 113-40) of 2013 directed the USGS to cooperate with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the State geological surveys to assess the availability of recoverable natural helium (He) and associated CO2 found in natural gas reservoirs in the United States. In addition, the FY2017 Congressional appropriations for the Department of the Interior (DOI) requested the USGS to conduct a study on the feasibility of carbon mineralization for permanent sequestration of CO2 emissions.
During the course of the Utilization of Carbon and other Energy Gases – Geologic Research and Assessments project, the following research and assessment topics will be investigated. These topics are discussed in more detail in the research section of this web page:
USGS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Pertaining to "Carbon Sequestration"
Sean Brennan and Celeste Lohr
Associate Project Chiefs
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The Utilization of Carbon and other Energy Gases – Geologic Research and Assessments project conducts science and produces reports to determine how much additional oil could be produced if carbon dioxide (CO2) were widely available, if there is enough naturally occurring CO2 that could be produced to meet the needs for widespread use for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and the ramifications of widespread CO2 injection for EOR or for emissions reduction. Some potential ramifications of widespread injection of CO2 that this project is addressing include: a) will it cause earthquakes, b) what is the potential for CO2 leakage, and c) what are the environmental risks of storing CO2 in underground reservoirs? Another goal of the project is to better characterize and evaluate the resource potential of energy-related gases such as CO2, helium (He), nitrogen (N2), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). If separated and concentrated from the produced natural gas stream, then these low-thermal (un-economic) natural gas deposits may become a viable part of the national natural gas resource base.
Geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) utilization coupled with enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using CO2 in existing or depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs can increase the U.S. hydrocarbon recoverable resource volume and prevent wasteful CO2 release to the atmosphere. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA, Public Law 110-140) of 2007 authorized the USGS to conduct a national assessment of geologic storage resources and to evaluate the national technically recoverable hydrocarbon resources resulting from CO2 injection and related storage (CO2-EOR). The USGS recently completed the national CO2 storage assessment (see U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resources Assessment Team, 2013); however, an evaluation of recoverable hydrocarbons (oil) related to CO2 injection was delayed to allow the USGS time to build a comprehensive CO2-EOR database and to develop an assessment methodology to evaluate the recovery potential for oil related to CO2 injection. The USGS CO2-EOR assessment will build upon previous technical/economic evaluations conducted by industry, government, and academic organizations; however, the USGS assessments will be of the total technically recoverable oil resources, and will not include a minimum economic cutoff. Previous assessments of CO2-EOR recoverable resources have included economic constraints and vary widely with some estimates of over 100 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. The national resource of technically recoverable oil resulting from CO2 injection on a non-economic basis is unknown. The objective of this research task is to conduct a national assessment of recoverable oil related to CO2 injection. The amount of CO2 stored (utilized) during the hydrocarbon recovery process will also be evaluated.
The following USGS reports and slide presentations summarize our approach to the development philosophy of assessment methodology and work progress:
USGS Techniques and Methods: Overview of a Comprehensive Resource Database for the Assessment of Recoverable Hydrocarbons Produced by Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery
USGS Scientific Investigations Report: Three approaches for estimating recovery factors in carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery
Outside Report: Determining CO2 storage potential during miscible CO2 enhanced oil recovery: Noble gas and stable isotope tracers
USGS Factsheet: Development of an assessment methodology for hydrocarbon recovery potential using carbon dioxide and associated carbon sequestration: Workshop findings
Slideshow: Development philosophy of an assessment methodology for hydrocarbon recovery potential using CO2–EOR associated with carbon sequestration [.pdf]
Slideshow: Enhanced oil recovery and CO2 resource studies at the U.S. Geological Survey [.pdf]
Slideshow: A database and probabilistic assessment methodology for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery and associated carbon dioxide retention in the United States [.pdf]
Slideshow: A probabilistic assessment methodology for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery and associated carbon dioxide retention [.pdf]
USGS Open-File Report: Fundamentals of carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR)—A supporting document of the assessment methodology for hydrocarbon recovery using CO2-EOR associated with carbon sequestration
Contact: Peter Warwick
The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA Public Law 110-140) authorized the USGS to conduct a national assessment of geologic storage resources for CO2. The results of the national assessment were published in 2013. The EISA also directed the USGS to evaluate the unique conditions resulting from long-term storage of CO2 in geologic reservoirs. In addition, the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 (HSA, Public Law 113-40) directed the USGS to work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and State geological surveys to produce a national assessment of helium (He) resources and associated naturally occurring CO2. Naturally occurring He is used in many industrial and research applications and natural CO2 is primarily used in enhanced oil recovery operations. Although not part of the petroleum system, He and CO2 often occur in low-thermal (< 950 British thermal units) natural gas reservoirs. Hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen are other impurities often associated with low-thermal natural gas. To determine the need for anthropogenic CO2 for EOR operations, a better understanding of the availability and resource distribution of naturally occurring CO2 is needed. Likely, a mix of CO2 from both anthropogenic and natural sources will be used to recover remaining hydrocarbons. In addition, the FY2017 Congressional appropriations requested the USGS to conduct a study on the feasibility of carbon mineralization for permanent sequestration of CO2 emissions.
To address these Congressional requests, ongoing research studies include:
1) Work with BLM and the State Geological Surveys to assess CO2/He occurrence in U.S. natural gas reservoirs;
2) Characterization of natural CO2/He gas and reservoir rocks by geochemical, isotopic, and microbial analyses to help determine the origin (mantle or crustal), migration pathways, and ultimate fate of the natural CO2/He;
3) Preparation of a report describing the feasibility of large-scale CO2 mineralization in the United States; and
4) Work to better characterize pressure-limited CO2 storage resources and the associated economics of CO2 storage.
Outside Report: Mantle and crustal gases of the Colorado Plateau: Geochemistry, sources, and migration pathways
Outside Report: 3D Pressure-limited approach to model and estimate CO2 injection and storage capacity: saline Mount Simon Formation
Outside Report: Chemical and isotopic evidence for CO2 charge and migration within Bravo Dome and potential CO2 leakage to the southwest
USGS Open-File Report: Profiles of reservoir properties of oil-bearing plays for selected petroleum provinces in the United States
Outside Report: Cost implications of uncertainty in CO2 storage resource estimates—A review
Outside Report: Risk, liability, and economic issues with long-term CO2 storage—A review
USGS Open-File Report: Geologic framework for the national assessment of carbon dioxide storage resources
USGS Open-File Report: Carbon dioxide storage in unconventional reservoirs workshop—Summary of recommendations
In recent years, the United States has expanded the use of technologies that involve injection (and in some cases associated production) of fluid at depth to meet future energy needs, limit emissions of greenhouse gases, and safely dispose of wastewater. To varying degrees, the injection and production practices employed in these technologies have the potential to introduce significant seismic hazards (see report by the National Research Council, 2012). The significance of induced seismicity associated with wastewater disposal from natural gas production is highlighted by the 2008 (M3.3) and 2009 earthquake sequence near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and by the 2011 seismicity induced by the deep injection of wastewater near Guy, Arkansas (M4.7) and Youngstown, Ohio (M4.0). Likewise, there is a potential seismic hazard associated with geologic carbon sequestration projects, which could involve injection of vast quantities of supercritical CO2 into sedimentary basins located in or near major urban centers of the eastern and central United States (National Research Council, 2012).
As a national science agency, the USGS is responsible for assessing hazard from earthquakes throughout the United States. The USGS studies induced seismicity across the spectrum of energy issues: carbon sequestration, geothermal energy, and conventional and unconventional oil and gas. In the central and eastern United States, earthquakes induced by fluid injection activities contribute significantly to the total seismic hazard, partly because the modern boom in oil and gas production is taking place in this vast region and because the background level of seismicity is relatively low in this geologically stable part of country. This project, in support with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, is installing and operating seismic networks around key carbon sequestration pilot projects to study the potential for induced seismicity related to CO2 storage in regionally extensive sedimentary formations.
In Decatur, IL, where Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) operates a corn-ethanol fermentation facility for which the main byproduct is CO2, we installed and operate a seismic network to assess the seismic hazard associated with CO2 sequestration. The Illinois Basin Decatur Project (IBDP), whose major Partners are the Department of Energy (DOE), the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), ADM, and Schlumberger Carbon Services, injected large quantities of CO2 into the lower Mt. Simon Sandstone, a basal brine reservoir in the Illinois Basin at a depth of 2.1 km. The first phase of this project, which began in November 2011 and concluded in November 2014, injected 1000 metric tons (tons)/day of CO2. The second phase, the Illinois Carbon Capture and Sequestration (ICCS) project, led by Archer Daniels Midland, will entail injection in a new well about 1 km north of the current injection well at a rate of 3000 tons/day (1.1. million tons/year) over a 5-year period. The ICCS demonstration project is the ideal natural laboratory for better understanding the seismic hazards that may be associated with geologic CO2 sequestration.
Outside Report: Surface monitoring of microseismicity at the Decatur, Illinois, CO2 sequestration demonstration site
Outside Report: Seismic monitoring at the Decatur, IL, CO2 sequestration demonstration site
Contact: Ole Kaven
A list of downloadable Geologic CO2 Sequestration spatial data and associated geologic reports is available here.
Visit our interactive web map that includes investigated basins, assessed areas, stratigraphic columns, and well density information.
Sean T. Brennan1, Joseph A. East1, Kristin O. Dennen1, Hossein Jahediesfanjani2, Brian Varela3
1U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20192; 2Lynxnet, 13873 Park Center Rd., Suite 400N, Herndon, VA 20171; 3U.S. Geological Survey, Kipling St & 6th Street, Denver, CO 80226
In 2013, the Helium Stewardship Act (Public Law 113–40; U.S. Congress, 2013) directed the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to create an accounting of the geological helium resources of the United States. The initial task in this endeavor has been to collect all known analyses of subsurface helium gas within the contiguous United States and Alaska.
The two main sources of data employed in this assessment process are from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). BLM data come from thousands of gas samples analyzed for the Federal Helium Program, which originally began in 1925 under the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM). These analyses were reported in several publications (Moore and Sigler, 1987; Hamak and Gage, 1992; Hamak and Sigler, 1991, 1993; Sigler, 1994; Hamak and Driskill, 1996; Gage and Driskill, 1998, 2003, 2005; Driskill, 2008), and additional unpublished data reside in an internal BLM database. A publically available database that contains much of the data from USBM, BLM, and USGS analyses (U.S. Geological Survey, 2015).
The data include all gas analyses from the BLM and USGS databases with measured values of helium concentrations. Helium values of less than 0.005 mol% are listed as “TRACE”, and those greater than 0.005 mol% were rounded up to 0.01 mol%. We report all helium recognized in gas compositions, even though there is a limit on economically recoverable helium. A minimum helium concentration of 0.3 mole percent (mol%) is needed for the commercial separation of helium from marketable natural gas (National Research Council, 2010). However, helium concentrations as low as 0.04 can be economic if gas is chilled and purified to meet specifications as liquefied natural gas (National Research Council, 2010).
It is important to note that there might be several gas samples from different wells in a given reservoir or formation, hence the concentration values reported for each well sample do not necessarily represent the concentration of helium in the entire reservoir.
The analytical data is supported with identifying information. These include the American Petroleum Institute (API) number, a unique 10 digit identifier for each well, the first two numbers indicate the state, the next three indicate the county, and the last five numbers are a unique code for that well. Each entry also contains the latitude and longitude of the well, and the names of the gas producing formation and field. The sample depth in feet and the date that the sample was collected are listed for each well. The reported date is in mm/dd/yyyy format. Wherever “00” is present in the sample date, this indicates that the sampling day and or month were not listed in the source publications. Where data are absent, or listed as “not given”, “UNK” was entered into the field to indicate that information is unknown.
You must read and agree to the following limitations of the data prior to downloading:
Disclaimer for Provisional Data
The data you have secured are provisional and subject to revision. The data are released on the condition that neither the USGS nor the United States Government may be held liable for any damages resulting from its authorized or unauthorized use.
Although the data have been processed on the computer system at the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made by the Geological Survey regarding the utility of the data on any other system, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. No responsibility is assumed by the U.S. Geological Survey in the use of these data.
By downloading, you are aware of these limitation to data use and data quality:
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Driskill, D.L, 2008, Analyses of natural gases, 2005–2007: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 427, p., accessed May 17, 2016.
Gage, B.D., and Driskill, D.L., 1998, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1996–1997: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 404, 71 p., accessed May 17, 2016.
Gage, B.D., and Driskill, D.L., 2003, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1998–2001: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 412, 173 p., accessed May 17, 2016.
Gage, B.D., and Driskill, D.L. , 2005, Analyses of Natural Gases, 2002–2004: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 418, 243 p., accessed May 17, 2016.
Hamak, J.E., and Driskill, D.L., 1996, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1994–1995: U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 399, 70 p., accessed May 17, 2016.
Hamak, J.E., and Gage, B.D., 1992, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1991: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9318, 97 p.
Hamak, J.E., and Sigler, S.M., 1991, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1986–1990: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9301, 315 p.
Hamak, J.E., and Sigler, S.M., 1993, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1992: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9356, 62 p.
Moore, B.J., and Sigler, S.M., 1987, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1917–1985: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9129, 1197 p.
National Research Council. 2010, Selling the Nation's Helium Reserve: Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 156 p.
Sigler, S.M., 1994, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1993: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9400, 58 p.
U.S. Congress, 2013, Helium Stewardship Act of 2013—Public Law 110–40: U.S. Government Printing Office, 15 p., accessed May 17, 2016.
U. S. Geological Survey, 2015, Geochemistry Database: U.S. Geological Survey, Provisional Database, accessed May 17, 2016.
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USGS Carbon Sequestration Website
National Assessment of Ecosystem Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes
USGS Earthquake Hazards Program - "Induced Earthquakes"
Select Energy Resources Program CO2 Publications
Gulf Coast Carbon Center - Bureau of Economic Geology
Illinois State Geological Survey
Stanford Center for Carbon Storage
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Related Websites:
U.S. DOE Geologic Sequestration Research
Regional Partnerships Involved in Carbon Sequestration Research:
West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WestCarb)
Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration
Big Sky Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership
Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership
Midwest (Illinois Basin) Geologic Sequestration Consortium
Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership
Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership
State Geologic Survey Websites:
Check on geologic CO2 sequestration activities in your state. Visit the Association of American State Geologists website
International Energy Agency (IEA) Websites:
IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEAGHG)
IEA Carbon Capture and Storage
Other International Websites:
CO2 Capture Project
CO2CRC (Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas technologies)
MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment Carbon Sequestration Initative
Geologic CO2 Storage, The University of Texas at Austin
Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), Stanford University
Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), Princeton University
Carbon Sequestration Conference
Page Last Modified: Friday, October 27, 2017