University of Minnesota
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A collaboration lead by Princeton University with subcontracts to the University of Minnesota and Brookhaven National Laboratory

Basin-Scale Leakage Risks from Geologic Carbon Sequestration

Widespread adoption of carbon capture and geologic sequestration (CCS) will occur only if CCS is economically competitive, politically feasible and if it comes close to meeting the US Department of Energy (DOE) performance goals of 99% CO2 storage permanence and a 10% electricity cost premium. The greatest uncertainty lies with the costs and liabilities from imperfect performance of a CCS project, in which some of the CO2 stored in deep geologic formations leaks out. This leakage translates into the loss of carbon mitigation credit, as well as potential damages to and interferences with other subsurface resources such as hydrocarbons or potable water. This project brought together a multidisciplinary team of experts to link energy market competitiveness of CCS with economic losses from CO2 leakage.

This research project has developed simulation tools that predict potential leakage rates from CO2 injection zones. The basin-scale simulation tool ELSA has been modified to account for potential changes in leakage rates through wells and caprock fractures caused by geochemical reactions (Thrust I). The project has also developed novel analytical tools that use the geospatial simulations of leakage rates to predict the financial consequences of CO2 and brine leakage interferences with other subsurface activities and resources (Thrust II). Finally, the project has developed an integrated framework to predict how the costs of leakage could impact the competiveness of CCS in the energy market (Thrust III).

Project Research Thrusts

Thrust I: Predict leakage from CO2 injection zones with precision and low computational effort
(Contact: Jeff Fitts: fitts’at’

1. Experimental observations and modeling of leakage pathway evolution.

See manuscripts by Ellis et al., 2011; Fitts et al. 2012; Ellis et al., 2013;

2. CFD and Pore-scale network modeling of permeability evolution.

See manuscripts by Deng et al., 2013; Nogues et al., In review;

3. Informing the continuum scale model of the potential addition of leakage driven by permeability evolution leakage.

See ELSA modeling by the Celia group

Thrust II: Quantify financial consequences of leakage including costs from interferences with subsurface resources
(Contacts: Elizabeth Wilson: ewilson'at'; Jeff Bielicki: bielicki.2'at'

1. Develop methodology to value leakage from geologic CO2 storage reservoirs.

See manuscript by Pollak et al., 2013; Bielicki et al., In revision.

2. Develop method to monetize basin-scale leakage risk and stakeholder impacts.

See manuscript by Bielicki et al., 2013

Thrust III: Examine the competitiveness of CCS in the energy market and quantify the impact of leakage on this market competitiveness
(Vatsal Bhatt: vbhatt’at’

1. Develop costing model for CCS that incorporates cost of leakage.

Costing Module

Methodology Description.

2. Evaluate economic mechanisms to increase CCS penetration of the energy market.

Vatsal Bhatt Presentation at 2012 CCS Meeting