ExxonMobil has been given the green light by federal officials to sequester carbon emissions deep underground in Wyoming, the first project of its kind to gain approval on federal lands.
The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the sequestration project in Lincoln and Sweetwater counties.
A carbon dioxide (CO2) disposal well pad and pipeline are planned as part of the project at the existing Shute Creek Plant near Kemmerer, which processes natural gas from the LaBarge field.
“This project is a prime example of how the BLM can work together with industry leaders to combat climate change,” said BLM Wyoming State Director Andrew Archuleta. “Projects like this will allow the BLM to play a part in reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.”
Most of the CO2 captured at Shute Creek has been sold by ExxonMobil for commercial use or used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Excess CO2 now is vented into the atmosphere under a permit approved by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
In early 2020, ExxonMobil applied to the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council for a permit to build and operate the expansion project. The existing Shute Creek Gas Plant is to be upgraded, along with a CO2 sales facility in Sweetwater County. In Lincoln County, a CO2 disposal well would be constructed, along with a nine-mile pipeline.
As of late 2021, LaBarge had captured an estimated 6-7 million metric tons (mmt) of CO2, making it the largest project of its kind in the world. As envisioned, the expansion, estimated to cost about $400 million, could capture about 1 mmt/year of carbon emissions.
The disposal well approved by BLM would sequester about 60 MMcf/d of CO2 at a depth of 18,000 feet in the water leg of the Madison formation, an approved disposal zone. Injecting CO2 into underground geologic formations “offers safe, secure and permanent disposal,” BLM noted.
BLM earlier this year revised its policies to allow CO2 to be permanently sequestered on federal lands. While CO2 has been injected underground in the United States since the 1940s, it typically has been used as a temporary measure to produce more oil via EOR.
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