Is Belmont County site a good place for carbon dioxide sequestration?

COLUMBUS — Power plants are a major source of carbon dioxide, so the area surrounding them is of great interest for possible injection and storage of this greenhouse gas.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, recently released a report on the geology of a potential carbon dioxide sequestration well site in eastern Ohio’s Belmont County.

The pilot study site is at FirstEnergy Corporation’s Burger Power Plant along the Ohio River.

More study needed

The report shows the site’s geology is suitable for sequestration, but further study is needed to show if carbon dioxide can actually be injected there.

“Injection testing must be performed to see if the rock strata at the site can actually store sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide to make the effort worthwhile,” said Larry Wickstrom, chief of the ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

The new report documents the geology surrounding the site drawn from data acquired from oil and gas well records and from the geologic formations encountered during the drilling of a deep pilot well in early 2007.

Summer testing

At least three prospective injection zones with the potential of holding carbon dioxide were identified from the pilot well, which reached more than 1.5-miles underground. All three zones were more than 5,000 feet deep, with more than 3,000 feet of highly impermeable shale above them — all characteristics necessary for sequestration.

Battelle Memorial Institute, which leads the partnership, will inject small amounts of carbon dioxide into these zones later this summer as further exploration and testing of the site continues.

Lots of interest

Geologists, power-generating utilities and the oil and gas industry are interested in ODNR’s report because few wells in southeastern Ohio and northern West Virginia are as deep as the pilot well.

Marcellus Shale was also encountered in the test well at a depth of 5,700 feet. A boom of drilling and interest in Marcellus Shale is occurring in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio because operators of Marcellus Shale wells have enjoyed great production in recent years.

After drilling of the pilot well, ODNR logged numerous geophysical traits, recording various physical properties of the rocks and fluids encountered in the borehole.

Read the report

Geophysical logs are available on the CD version of the report, which is $25 (plus sales tax and shipping).

A free .pdf file of the report, Geologic Assessment of the Burger Power Plant and Surrounding Vicinity for Potential Injection of Carbon Dioxide (ODNR Division of Geological Survey Open File Report 2008-1), is available on the Ohio Geological Survey’s Web site.

Copies are also available in printed form by contacting ODNR’s Geologic Records Center or by calling 614-265-6576.

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