Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Western Pennsylvania oil, gas fields eyed for carbon dioxide storage

Western Pennsylvania oil, gas fields eyed for carbon dioxide storage
Original Source

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The region's many oil and natural gas fields could become sites for the underground storage of carbon dioxide, which is one of the options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are harming the environment, a state environmental official said Wednesday.
The state is in the early stages of developing a database of potential sites that could be used for storing carbon dioxide captured from sources such as coal-fired power plants and cement plants, said Kristin M. Carter, section chief of carbon sequestration for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey.
"All of Western Pennsylvania is a prospective area because of the oil and gas drilling over the past 150 years," Carter said.
Identifying sites in the state for storing carbon dioxide might take seven to 10 years, Carter said, given all the factors that must be considered. Those include geologic conditions, environmental risks, the availability of potential sites and who owns the property where carbon dioxide could be pumped underground, Carter said.
The process of capturing carbon emissions and sequestering them underground is being explored at the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, where 450 representatives of government, industry and universities are exploring how to reduce coal's impact on the environment. The four-day conference concludes today in the Westin Convention Center hotel, Downtown.
"CCS (carbon capture and storage) needs to be part of the" program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, said Anthony V. Cugini, director of the Office of Research and Development at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park.
Finding where Pennsylvania can store carbon dioxide is important in a state that emits 1 percent of the world's human-caused global warming gases, and ranks third among all states in global warming emissions, according to a 2007 report from the National Environmental Trust, an environmental advocacy organization.
Pennsylvania has an estimated geologic capacity to store hundreds of years' worth of carbon emissions, at the present rate, according to a conservation department report issued in May as part of the project to develop the database. A 2008 law requires the state to study carbon dioxide sequestration, and a risk assessment report and business analysis is to be finished in November, Carter said.
"We have targeted deeper rock layers," Carter said, which are about 2,500 feet below the surface, far below the level of underground mine operations in Pennsylvania. Abandoned coal mines would not be good sites because of the proximity to the surface and potential for leaks, Carter said.
While no carbon dioxide emission sites have been targeted, Carter said there has been a case study on an area referred to as Summit Field in southern Fayette County.
The underground site is about 15 miles east of Allegheny Energy Inc.'s Hatfield's Ferry power plant along the Monongahela River in Greene County. The Summit Field in the Laurel Highlands includes state-owned land in the Forbes State Forest and is underneath small towns of fewer than 1,000 people, Carter said.

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