The United States has at least 2,400 billion metric tons of possible carbon dioxide (CO2) storage capacity in saline formations, oil and gas reservoirs and unmineable coal seams, enough to potentially store “hundreds of years’ worth of industrial greenhouse emissions,” according to a report from the Department of Energy (DOE).

“Of particular importance is that over 280 billion metric tons of storage capacity has been identified in depleted oil and gas fields (including unconventional gas sources), which could accommodate storage of several decades of emission from stationary sources while simultaneously improving the energy security of the United States by enhancing oil and gas recovery,” said the 130-page 2012 Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas, which was compiled by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

Capturing CO2 emissions from large power and industrial plants and putting it to beneficial use or storing it in deep geologic formations “is a key element in national efforts to mitigate climate change,” NETL said. Carbon capture, utilization and storage “holds great promise as part of a portfolio of technologies that enables the United States and the rest of the world to effectively address climate change while meeting the energy demands of an ever increasing global population.”

Oil prices above $75/bbl and increased need for carbon capture programs are converging as a possible long-term boost for the increased use of enhanced oil recovery, according to industry sources working to drive commercial-scale projects with the help of DOE and state initiatives (see Daily GPI, July 24).

Data in the NETL report, which is current as of last month, is scheduled to be updated every two years. The report was created using input from DOE’s seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships and 10 Site Characterization projects.

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