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Estimating the Carbon Sequestration Capacity of Shale Formations Using Methane Production Rates

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posted on 18.02.2016, 19:14 by Zhiyuan Tao, Andres Clarens
Hydraulically fractured shale formations are being developed widely for oil and gas production. They could also represent an attractive repository for permanent geologic carbon sequestration. Shales have a low permeability, but they can adsorb an appreciable amount of CO2 on fracture surfaces. Here, a computational method is proposed for estimating the CO2 sequestration capacity of a fractured shale formation and it is applied to the Marcellus shale in the eastern United States. The model is based on historical and projected CH4 production along with published data and models for CH4/CO2 sorption equilibria and kinetics. The results suggest that the Marcellus shale alone could store between 10.4 and 18.4 Gt of CO2 between now and 2030, which represents more than 50% of total U.S. CO2 emissions from stationary sources over the same period. Other shale formations with comparable pressure–temperature conditions, such as Haynesville and Barnett, could provide significant additional storage capacity. The mass transfer kinetic results indicate that injection of CO2 would proceed several times faster than production of CH4. Additional considerations not included in this model could either reinforce (e.g., leveraging of existing extraction and monitoring infrastructure) or undermine (e.g., leakage or seismicity potential) this approach, but the sequestration capacity estimated here supports continued exploration into this pathway for producing carbon neutral energy.