Skip to comments.Government Begins Work on CO2 Storage Project at Teapot Dome
Posted on 01/28/2004 1:01:22 AM PST by Z-28
By Sarah Cooke, Associated Press Writer
Published: Jan 28, 2004
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - The government is trying to bury something at its Teapot Dome oil field again. Not secret oil leases, as it did during an infamous scandal of the 1920s, but carbon dioxide - lots of it.
In hopes of developing a process that could slow global warming, the Energy Department wants to inject the greenhouse gas underground into depleted oil reservoirs after converting it into a liquid form.
The Teapot Dome project, now in the planning stages, could be one of the world's largest test sites for the method. It would store CO2 from a natural gas processing plant more than 300 miles away beneath the 10,000-acre oil field in central Wyoming.
So-called carbon dioxide sequestration has been tested at smaller sites nationwide but never on such a large scale, said Vicki Stamp, a project manager for the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center, which manages Teapot Dome.
Used in enhanced oil recovery for decades, pumping carbon dioxide into underground reservoirs is being touted by the Bush administration as one of the most promising ways to counter the greenhouse effect.
"(Carbon dioxide) is the primary global greenhouse gas and it's growing rapidly," said Dag Nummedal, director of the University of Wyoming Institute for Energy Research. "During the last four or five years the international consensus is that the most rational, economic and environmentally benign way of getting CO2 out of the atmosphere is to store it underground.
"Right now, the best place to do this is in depleted oil and gas fields."
Teapot Dome - named for a nearby rock formation - is currently in its preliminary engineering and testing stages. Storage could begin by 2006 and last seven to 10 years, although Nummedal says managers "don't really know the upper limit yet."
When a reservoir is full, the pipeline is taken out and the hole sealed up. "The objective is to keep it sealed underground forever, hundreds or thousands of years," Nummedal said.
The site is projected to store at least 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide a year when fully operational. It could eventually lead to large-scale testing in other Rocky Mountain states, the Ohio River Valley, Texas Gulf Coast, California and other areas, Nummedal said.
"The long-term plan is to encourage the growth of a new private sector sequestration industry," he said.
Talk of a national CO2 testing center started early last year. But it wasn't until managers found a source of carbon dioxide later that summer that the idea became a reality.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owns an adjacent oil field, is extending its existing CO2 pipeline from a natural gas processing plant in western Wyoming and has agreed to direct some of its 125 million cubic feet of CO2 to the test site, Nummedal said.
The gas will then be pressurized and injected as a liquid into the reservoirs through a pipeline. It could stay underground for a very long time, since the reservoirs that would store the CO2 held oil and methane gas for millions of years, said Susan Hovorka, a University of Texas researcher.
"That's not true of other mechanisms," she said. "If you grow more (trees, which consume carbon dioxide) how do you assure it doesn't all go up in a forest fire or that another generation decides to go ahead and farm that area?"
Burial can also rid the Earth of a large volume of carbon dioxide in a relatively short amount of time, Hovorka said.
"We've got almost all the carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere coming from fossil fuels," she said. "There's space equivalent in acreage to put all that carbon dioxide back underground."
If the project pans out, officials hope to capture CO2 from the nation's power plants, oil and gas refineries and other manufacturing facilities "because that is the CO2 today that is leaking into the atmosphere without any controls on it," Nummedal said.
One possibility is capturing the gas with scrubbers similar to those attached to smokestacks that remove nitrous oxide and other gases, he said.
The storage process - particularly compressing the CO2 - is expensive. Some estimates put it as high as $100 per ton, though Nummedal and others said they don't yet have cost estimates for Teapot Dome.
Even if it is a success, the Teapot Dome project could have little impact by itself.
"Globally we are releasing 7 billion tons of carbon per year," Nummedal said. "The amount we will be putting away here will be in the hundreds of thousands of tons."
But he added: "If we look at all the suitable, depleted oil and gas reservoirs in the world, and we were able to fill all of them up, we would be able to store the total global emissions over the next 100 years."
Some environmentalists worry about gas bubbling through cracks in the Earth or leaking into aquifers that supply drinking water.
"We very clearly need some field demonstrations of a storage system to make sure (we) don't have any surprises," said David Hawkins, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center in Washington, D.C.
Nummedal and others stress they're testing Teapot Dome reservoirs for those concerns.
"The early steps of this cooperative venture show the classic markings of a win-win proposition for American consumers," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said.
On the Net:
Department of Energy: http://www.doe.gov
Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center: http://www.rmotc.com
UW Institute for Energy Research: http://www.ieronline.org
Built by Text2Html
Easy---you make paper out of it, and bury it in landfills.
STOP GLOBAL WARMING---DON'T RECYCLE PAPER!!!!
Carbon dioxide is NOT the primary greenhouse gas. Water vapor is, and the global warmers hate to admit it because it draws attention to the stupidity of their theories.
The computer models cannot handle water vapor (or any part of the water cycle) because it would take a lot more computing power and a lot more data input world-wide to deal with it correctly. Neither will be available any time soon.
Nothing in the atmosphere can store heat anywhere nearly as efficiently as the water molecule. People who use humidifiers with their heat in winter readily notice that the humidified air holds heat much better than dry air.
This is one of the priciples that drives weather mechanisms on this planet and yet the global warming models are unable to deal with water vapor (and clouds which are part of the water vapor cycle)
The global warmers have to tell us that water vapor and clouds have no effect but carbon dioxide does. That is exactly upside-down from reality.
What we have are some scientists who have to come up with results showing global warming or they will lose their jobs/grants and so they dutifully produce computer models which produce the results that they were designed to produce.
Why don't we just build a fleet of rocket powered tankers and send all the CO2 to the moon or Mars and let it be a problem for the people up there?
What idiots .. in 50 years someone would probably pay for natural seltzer.
He refers to the funding for CO2 projects. It's the primary global greenhouse gas funding center.
Yep, going with international consensus has really done us a lot of good lately, hasn't it?
Ummm...CO2 is a natural substance. When allowed to do their job, plants, trees, and other vegitation helps to cycle this stuff. From what I remember, the oceans themselves play a major roll in the CO2 cycle.
I just don't see how the process of liquifying the stuff and pumping it 300 miles and into old oil wells is considered an "efficient" way of disposing of this "greenhouse" gas.
A reply to the talk that Water Vapor renders CO2 irrelevant, 4 things:
1. Water vapor may be a greenhouse gas, but it is not seeing an anthropogenic (human caused) rise like CO2 is. We are seeing human caused global warming. It is being caused by CO2, regardless of CO2's makeup of the total greenhouse gasses.
2. Water Vapor being a major constituent of greenhouse gasses actually compounds CO2's effect. A small rise in temperature from CO2 will raise evaporation rates and the air's ability to hold water vapor. This increased amount of water vapor will in turn raise temperatures a bit more, resulting in.. more water vapor. Thus the effect of CO2 is much greater than the heating effect of CO2 alone.
3. It is most likely that the 5% is by weight, and well, water is heavy.
4. The amount of something speaks nothing to the effect of something. By mass, seawater is only something like 3% salt. But damn, it tastes salty. If you say CO2 doesnt matter because it only makes up 5% of the total greenhouse gasses, then I encourage you to drink all the seawater you want, its only 3% salt after all.
Hope this made sense, it was somewhat off the cuff.
Plants and CO2:
It is true that plants sequester CO2 (including aquatic life, with simple sea plankton and algae being a major carbon sink). Because of the increased levels of CO2 we are actuall seeing a slight increase in growth rates in individual trees and plants. Problem is though, we're cutting down most of the trees. So there's fewer of them to fix the carbon out of the air (bare dirt and farmland provide almost no carbon sequestration).
Making the problem worse is we are losing a lot of forest to slash and burn in the tropics, releasing all the carbon they've stored up.
You are right. Plants do absorb CO2, and they will continue to do so, and the rates of sequestration for an individual plant will increase and adjust to higher CO2 levels. And, if pressed I believe any scientist will even tell you that we will reach a balance at some point to where CO2 output will be equal to CO2 sequestration (so that levels will steady and no longer increase). But such a balance will still leave us with higher atmospheric levels of CO2 than we have currently. This will still result in a warmer planet.
We're not talking about the end of the world here. But we are talking about the *changing* of the world. Specifically we are talking about the warming of the planet, a warming that we can measure even today, a warming that is already causing species that can to migrate to higher latittudes, a warming that we already know is mostly human caused.
This is a warming that may result in some benefits, such as longer growing periods in some areas. But also a warming that will mean desertificatoin of some places and mass flooding of others as sea levels rise.
No, the world wont end. But massive climate change on a global scale is no small matter either.
Understanding that plants absorb CO2 is a small (but important) piece of a much larger and mildly more complex picture.
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