CLIMATE:

DOE sequestration test reaches milestone

An Energy Department-sponsored carbon dioxide sequestration project in Mississippi has become the first in the nation to inject more than 1 million tons of the greenhouse gas into an underground rock formation.

The project passed the mark in August at the oil-producing Cranfield site near Natchez, DOE announced yesterday. Only four other projects -- in Norway, Canada and Algeria -- have reached that milestone.

The Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership -- one of seven regional groupings of DOE laboratories, universities and industry -- is combining the CO2 injection project with enhanced oil recovery efforts by Texas-based Denbury Resources Inc.

The Cranfield injection tests could continue through March, said John Litynski, director of the sequestration division at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory. The project will ultimately inject 1.5 million tons of CO2 that is piped to the site from Jackson Dome, a natural source of CO2 in Mississippi.

The partnership team is injecting the gas more than 10,000 feet below the surface into a saline aquifer. The process helps boost crude production from the same rock body; afterward, CO2 remains in the rock. The Texas Bureau of Economic Geology is collecting data and monitoring the stability of the gas within the rock formation.

"What's interesting in this [project] is that it uses existing infrastructure to help see what happens on the pressure front. That's fairly important in helping to manage the injection project," Litynski said. "It helps to determine what impact the pressure field has on the entire reservoir."

The research uses instruments nearly 2 miles underground to monitor injected CO2.

Denbury Resources has drilled two other wells for the partnership that are being used to monitor the movement of CO2 in the rock formation, said Tracy Evans, president and chief operating officer of the company.

The partnership plans to apply data from Cranfield to a planned carbon capture and sequestration demonstration at a coal-fired power plant in Alabama. That project is expected to start capturing and storing CO2 in 2011.

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