The Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, or SECARB, is a program underway at the Southern States Energy Board to define the role for clean coal in a carbon-constrained world and balance the environmental effects of existing and prospective power generating facilities.
The Partnership is composed of more than 100 active industry, government, academic, and nonprofit participants who provide leadership to address climate change through solutions such as CO2 sequestration. SECARB is one of seven regional partnerships nationwide and co-funded by the United States Department of Energy and SECARB partners. The SECARB program is divided into three phases.
Phase I: Characterization
Phase I (2003-2005) focused on characterizing the geology and potential terrestrial sequestration options in the Southeast. It culminated in the development of action plans for small-scale geologic carbon sequestration field demonstrations.
Phase II: Validation
SECARB conducted a five-year Phase II Validation program (2005-2010). During Phase II, the team implemented the action plans developed in Phase I and completed three small-scale and diverse field tests in four locations.
Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) stacked formations along the Gulf Coast are a prime target area for geologic storage of CO2. Sequestration in these formations can help the United States reach national emissions reduction targets. SECARB’s research estimates 31 billion tonnes of potential storage capacity in the region’s depleted oil and natural gas fields. SECARB’s Gulf Coast Stacked Storage Field Test, managed by the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, began injecting CO2 in July 2008 and concluded in 2015. The project was successful in validating the storage capacity of the stacked formations. SECARB was the first of the RCSP’s Phase II program to attain an injection volume of 500,000 tonnes. The site was located in Denbury Onshore, LLC’s, Cranfield oilfield near Natchez, Mississippi.
Coal seams are among the most attractive potential CO2 sinks occurring in the southeastern United States, where a prolific coal bed methane industry, which has produced more than 2.3 trillion standard cubic feet (Tscf) of natural gas, is approaching maturity. CO2 sequestration in unmineable coal seams can enhance coal bed methane production to help offset sequestration costs. An estimated 82.1 billion tonnes of potential storage capacity exists in the region’s unmineable coal seams. There were two SECARB Phase II enhanced coal bed methane field tests. The first was managed by Virginia Tech, and CO2 injection of 1,000 tons was completed in February 2009. This test utilized an existing CNX Gas well located in Russell County, Virginia. The second was managed by the Geological Survey of Alabama, and El Paso Exploration and Production is donating a well to the SECARB team for this field test. The site is located near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and CO2 injection began on June 15, 2010.
Saline formations are the primary CO2 geologic storage options for the SECARB region because of the extensive saline formations that underlie many of the power plants in the region. SECARB’s research estimated 1,440 billion tonnes of potential sequestration in saline formations in the region. Mississippi Power Company’s Victor J. Daniel coal-fired power plant was the host site of SECARB’s Saline Reservoir Field Test, and was managed by the Electric Power Research Institute. Injection operations were conducted from October 2-28, 2008.
Phase III: Deployment
SECARB began a ten-year Phase III program in October 2007, to deploy two large-volume CO2 geologic storage projects.
The first project, or “Early Test,” complements work conducted by the SECARB team at Cranfield Oilfield (Phase II Gulf Coast Stacked Storage Project). The SECARB Early Test began in 2009 at Denbury Onshore, LLC’s active CO2-enhanced oil recovery operation in the Cranfield oilfield. The SECARB team has successfully field-tested a variety of CO2 monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) technologies to determine their commercial viability and robustness. The SECARB MVA program at Cranfield concluded in January 2015, and the cumulative total stored CO2 mass monitored at Cranfield is 5,371,643 metric tons. The three research wells were safely plugged and abandoned in accordance with the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board rules in April 2015. Denbury’s commercial operations will continue.
This project was the first of the RCSPs to begin CO2 injection and the first to achieve the goal of monitoring a one million metric ton injection. Data collected at Cranfield is utilized by the SECARB team and researchers worldwide to further refine reservoir models for similar geologic settings. In 2010, the international Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) recognized the Early Test project at Cranfield for its outstanding accomplishments in advancing CCS MVA technologies.
Knowledge gained from the Early Test is being applied at the second Phase III project, the “Anthropogenic Test” in Alabama, where CO2 injection began in August 2012. The project represents the largest U.S. demonstration project to date integrating CO2 capture, transportation, and geologic storage utilizing anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 from a coal-fired power plant. Under separate funding, the CO2 is captured at Alabama Power Company’s James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant located in Bucks, Alabama. The CO2 is transported 12 miles by pipeline and permanently stored within a deep saline formation at the Citronelle oilfield operated by Denbury. CO2 injection ended in September 2014; more than 114,000 metric tons of CO2 was injected and stored at the site. The SECARB partners are applying proven and experimental MVA technologies to monitor CO2 movement in the subsurface during the current post-injection phase. In November 2013, the CSFL recognized the Anthropogenic Test project at Citronelle for its outstanding accomplishments in advancing CCS technologies.
Through a “Knowledge Sharing” activity established in 2011, the SECARB partners are facilitating interaction among scientists, researchers, and industry during which lessons learned from CCS projects around the globe are shared to further advance the technologies. Several SECARB partners and SSEB staff are serving as members of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group, approved by the American National Standards Institute, to mirror the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 265 effort for the development of guidance and standards for carbon capture, transportation, and geological storage. Participation in this endeavor will ensure that the ISO process is both technically sound and the U.S. consensus position is represented.
SECARB continues to characterize the region’s onshore and offshore geologic storage options, monitor federal and state regulatory and legislative activities, and support education and outreach efforts related to the program. Please visit the SECARB website at www.secarbon.org for the current status of all projects and related activities, upcoming meetings and workshops, social media subscriptions, and more.