DOE mapping initiative has eye toward carbon capture

Pittsburgh, May 2, 2012 — The Energy Department joined with partners from Canada and Mexico to release the first-ever atlas mapping the potential carbon dioxide storage capacity in North America.

According to the newly released North American Carbon Storage Atlas, there is at least 500 years of geologic storage for carbon dioxide emissions in North America. These areas could be used for storing carbon from industrial sources or power plants.

In addition to estimating the storage capacity for North American oil and gas fields, coal fields and saline reservoirs, NACSA also notes the location of a total of about 2,250 large stationary carbon dioxide sources.

Documenting the location of large stationary carbon dioxide emission sources and the locations and storage potential of various geological storage sites helps quantify the benefits and opportunities for potential carbon capture, use and storage projects.

CCUS technologies help to capture, purify and compress carbon dioxide, which is injected into geological formations for permanent storage. Those technologies can also be used for enhanced oil recovery to produce hard-to-access oil, while safely and permanently storing the carbon dioxide and preventing emission to the atmosphere. The process is an important option for reducing carbon pollution while further developing North America's fossil energy resources and meeting growing energy demand.


Created through the North American Carbon Atlas Partnership, a joint cross-border mapping initiative by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, NACSA includes both low and high estimates for potential carbon dioxide storage capacity in North America. The low case estimates potential capacity of 136 billion metric tons for oil and gas fields; 65 billion metric tons for coal fields; and 1,738 billion metric tons for saline reservoirs, collectively representing over 500 years of storage.

The new North American atlas shows an increase in potential storage capacity relative to previous estimates, primarily due to better geologic resolution and the identification of additional locations that could be used for EOR. By matching up EOR storage locations with specific sources of carbon dioxide, the atlas provides a more comprehensive view of the outlook and potential for carbon storage through EOR.

The atlas was developed by the DOE, Natural Resources Canada and the Mexican Ministry of Energy. It also included work from the DOE's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships, whose 400 organizations have worked over the last decade to characterize geologic storage opportunities in the U.S. and Canada and provide inputs to DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory's National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System.

The release of the atlas was announced by the Energy Department's Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Charles D. McConnell, at the 11th Annual Conference on Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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