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Offshore CO2 Storage Resource Assessment of the Northwest Gulf of Mexico Inner Continental Shelf, Upper Texas – Western Louisiana Coast


Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) continues to be considered one of the most promising technologies for reducing atmospheric emissions from industrial sources of CO2. CCUS research programs of the United States and European Union recognize the need to further develop offshore storage resources for successful global deployment of CCUS technologies. Offshore storage of CO2 has several advantages. 1) Locating sequestration sites away from heavily populated, onshore areas reduces opposition from local populations. 2) Use of offshore sites reduces the difficulty of establishing surface and mineral rights at candidate storage sites; offshore surface and subsurface rights usually belong to a single governmental entity. 3) Offshore storage reduces the risk to underground sources of drinking water. 4) Offshore CCS may provide storage sites near heavily populated coastal areas where onshore sites are unavailable. The challenge is to assess suitable offshore storage sites that will provide CO2 emitting industries with a sound environmental alternative to the current practice of venting CO2 to the atmosphere. The inner continental shelf of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico is an especially prospective CCUS area because it has abundant available geologic data accumulated from decades of hydrocarbon exploration near many large point sources of anthropogenic CO2. An ongoing study of the area from Bolivar Peninsula on the upper Texas coast to Vermilion Bay on the Louisiana coast assesses prospective geologic storage resources of depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline geologic formations for the approximately 8,000 square mile study area. The study, encompassing state and federal waters, utilizes 1) existing rock samples (e.g., whole cores), 2) well logs, and other data from existing or P&A wells and 3) available 2D, a conventional regional 3D and a high resolution 3D seismic surveys to assess storage resources (e.g., faults, reservoir and seal units, etc.). The study utilizes the available geologic data resources to 1) assess the CO2 storage capacity of depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs, and 2) assess the ability of saline formations in the region to safely and permanently store nationally-significant amounts of anthropogenic CO2. The study also seeks to identify at least one specific site with potential to store at least 30 million metric tons of CO2 that could be further considered in the future for a commercial or integrated demonstration project.