An innovative frontier is emerging that could potentially hold significant new opportunities for the rig market as it pushes into a new decade. Currently, carbon dioxide sequestration is predominantly carried out as a method of enhanced oil recovery (EOR). However, much research is being done to test the possibility of subsurface carbon storage, whether through existing wells in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or newly drilled wells in formations like deep saline reservoirs.
Using existing wells for carbon injection will certainly initiate opportunities for workovers, and of course using new wells will initiate opportunities for drilling and drilling rigs.
“We’re talking about a potential for widespread development,” said George Koperna of Advanced Resources International. He is co-chairman, along with Tom Blasingame of Texas A&M University, of the SPE International Conference on CO2 Capture, Storage and Utilization, to be held 2-4 November in San Diego, Calif.
Integrity of these sequestration wells, whether old or new, will be essential. This means that governments are closely monitoring research and demonstration projects around the world. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, has released draft standards on the types of materials that can be used in such wells.
Eventually, government guidelines are likely to cover everything from tubulars and casing to cementing materials because the wellbore will be the primary leakage pathway for any injected CO2. In fact, governments are approaching carbon sequestration like it’s nuclear waste storage. “You have to prove it’s going to stay there,” Mr Koperna said.
The added challenge is that, compared with oil and gas wells and reservoirs that may be active for 30 to 50 years, carbon storage wells and formations must hold up for hundreds of years.
“We’re absolutely devoted to making sure that whatever we put in the ground, stays in the ground,” Mr Blasingame said. “If you look at the gas storage reservoirs in the United States, some of them leak. That’s not going to be accepted for CO2… Ironically, CO2 is an organic component of life.”
Safe or not, however, when it comes to the economics side of the carbon equation, it’s going to be critical that industry can account for all the carbon molecules being stored. “It’s all about getting prepared for that day when there’s some kind of cap and trade system in place,” Mr Koperna said.
It may be too early to speculate on how exactly such a system would work – companies getting credits for injecting into certain formations, perhaps – but Mr Koperna believes that the dollar trail will be large.
The SPE conference will pull together industrywide experts on the application of well drilling, reservoir monitoring and completions for CO2 storage and utilization. It is set to open with a plenary session that will touch on issues related to carbon capture, including transportation, infrastructure, permitting and storage challenges.
Technical sessions will be “cradle to grave,” Mr Koperna said. They include: storage site screening; permitting, sourcing and equipment; EOR using CO2; leakage detection; case histories of field- and pilot-scale activities; well drilling, completion and assessment; and injection operations.
The conference will also give universities and scientists a forum to present their research through several poster sessions.
Mr Koperna and Mr Blasingame both believe that the time is right for a large-scale, international conference on carbon sequestration, and they hope the oil and gas industry will take advantage of this opportunity to learn about this emerging frontier. “As a technology transfer tool, I think this is the event to come to,” Mr Koperna said.
For additional information about the conference or to register, click here.
Click below for an exclusive video interview by IADC group vice president and DC publisher Mike Killalea with Mr Koperna.