AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition

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Onshore/Offshore Carbon Sequestration in the Southeastern United States


Eighty percent of the world's energy is supplied by fossil fuel and under increasingly stricter national and international regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, storage of CO2 in geologic repositories is a feasible and vital solution for near- and mid-term reduction of carbon emissions in any climate change mitigation strategy. To achieve the 2°C climate goal at least cost, projections by the International Energy Agency indicate that around 4,000 million tons of CO2 per year would need to be captured and stored by 2040, growing to around 6,000 million tons per year by 2050. Therefore, a significant opportunity exists for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) nationally and globally. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions in the U.S. are generated in the southeast, mostly from point sources. The University of South Carolina has received a total of ~$11M in Department of Energy funding to evaluate the feasibility of CO2 storage in saline formations of the Eastern North American Margin (ENAM) including (1) the Jurassic/Triassic (J/TR) sandstones of the buried South Georgia Rift basin (SGR; 2009-2014), and (2) Cretaceous and Cenozoic formations along the Mid- and South Atlantic seaboard (2015-2018). ENAM is a complex and regionally extensive mature Mesozoic passive margin rift system encompassing: (1) a large volume and regional extent of related magmatism, (2) a complete stratigraphic column that records the post-rift evolution in several basins, (3) preserved lithospheric-scale pre-rift structures including Paleozoic sutures, and (4) a wide range of geological, geochemical, and geophysical studies both onshore and offshore. This multi-institutional effort with a total of 15 partners has involved an integrated approach including significant advances in knowledge and technology to “support industry's ability to predict CO2 storage capacity in geologic formations to within ±30 percent” and to “develop Best Practices Manuals” related to carbon storage. These analyses have included integration of 2- and 3-D seismic surveys with core samples and geophysical well logs leading to a detailed stratigraphic, structural, petrophysical, and injection simulation model showing the heterogeneity and highly complex tectonic evolution of the target reservoirs.