Respectmyplanet.org (RMP) is a Michigan based 501(c)3 organization dedicated to water conservation through smarter energy production & waste management logistics. RMP, like many environmental groups, advocates for the increased adoption of wind energy and solar energy to meet the world’s energy needs. RMP advocates for the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles for cleaner air, a stronger economy, and energy independence. RMP seeks common sense energy solutions to wean ourselves off of oil & coal and to improve our economy and national security. To read RMP’s thesis post on the responsible migration away from crude oil as an energy source you can click here.
RMP understands, however, coal and crude oil will be around years to come even if we try our best to adopt better alternatives for producing energy. RMP takes a rational, common sense, & global approach about energy feed stocks like crude oil & coal, which means RMP understands they’ll be part of our energy mix for a long time to come. Oil & coal will not only persist for years to come, usage globally of oil & coal is likely to increase in developing countries facing energy poverty. To that end, RMP is different from many environmental groups because RMP supports Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) using Carbon Dioxide Sequestration. This post is about Carbon Capture & Sequestration (#CCS) in Michigan and RMP’s exclusive new map of all #CCS wells in Michigan. Even as RMP advocates for the responsible migration away from crude oil as an energy source, RMP supports #CCS as a means to keep our American workers working as we wean ourselves off of oil and work to build clean and sustainable hydrogen infrastructure for future generations. Michigan is well poised to produce oil by sequestering CO2 and be a leader in this technology’s research and development. #CCS technology learned and proven in Michigan can be exported to help poorer countries that will be burning coal for a long time to come. India, for example, on October 2, 2016 signed the Paris Climate Agreement which is almost fully ratified. Indian President Narendra Modi called on fully developed countries like ours to export technology like we have under development in Michigan to help India. Later in this post we will go over why Michigan is well suited to truly be a global leader in R&D for #CCS technology, but first let’s go over the basics of #CCS.
What is Carbon Capture & Sequestration (#CCS)?
If you’ve been following RMP, like you should be on either Twitter or facebook, you already know what Carbon Capture & Sequestration is. Carbon Capture & Sequestration (also known as #CCS) is the capture of Carbon Dioxide from anthropogenic sources like power plants, cement manufacturing, and fertilizer manufacturing where the CO2 is piped to an abandoned oil well and pumped underground rather than being released to atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG) and there is broad consensus amongst scientists that our planet’s climate is being impacted in a negative way by human activities like producing energy using fossil fuels that emit CO2 when burned. You’ll often hear the term anthropogenic CO2, which means CO2 produced by human activities as opposed to naturally occurring CO2.
The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) is a great place to start if you want to learn about #CCS in Michigan or other Midwestern states. The US Department of Energy has divided North America into seven different Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) and Michigan falls into the MRCSP. RMP encourages you to check out the MRCSP website and to read about the many things going on in our region. You can also check out the US Dept of Energy’s Carbon Capture & Storage Resource Center’s webpage by clicking here. I also encourage you to read Senate Bill S.3179 which is new legislation being sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp that incentivizes #CCS by offering up to a $20 per metric ton credit of CO2 sequestered into a secure geologic formation.
An estimated 1.2 billion barrels of potential oil recovery by CO2-EOR was calculated for our MRCSP region based on available data for 265 oil fields in the Midwest. Oil and gas reservoirs within the MRCSP region have an estimated storage resource capacity of 8,511 million metric tons (MMt). Based on an estimated 850 MMt per year of CO2 emissions, these reservoirs could sequester approximately 10 years worth of CO2 in our region.(1) Detailed reservoir characterization, geologic mapping, and modeling and simulation at the field-scale level are the next steps required to delineate prospective areas for future pilot floods and to plan successful CO2-EOR and sequestration projects within our region.
In addition to geological considerations, other factors that come into play when evaluating CO2-EOR potential in a region include (1) location and availability of CO2 sources (e.g., power plants, steel mills, cement plants) and proximity to oil reservoirs, (2) well spacing, (3) unitization issues, (4) location of improperly plugged wells and well-bore integrity, and (5) economic considerations.
The Department of Energy has divided the process of #CCS into three distinct phases which have been ongoing for years now. Phase 1 was the characterization phase which led to the Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the US & Canada which was last updated in 2012. Phase 2 was the validation phase where 20 small scale geologic storage tests were completed to validate reservoir simulation models, demonstrate accounting methods, and develop guidelines for future projects. Phase 3 is the development phase which is where we are now. Currently there are only six sites throughout the US & Canada that are undergoing Phase 3 long-term CO2 injection projects to validate the science on storage of large volumes of CO2. Michigan is home to one of those six sites. The Dover 2-33 well in Otsego County, which is pictured as the featured image on this post (photo credit: MCRSP) is a well in this small cadre of exclusive projects in North America. As of August 31, 2016 Michigan’s Dover 33 EOR Unit (as it’s called) has sequestered 580,687 tons of CO2, produced 515,284 barrels of oil, provided 170 jobs yielding more than $7.1 million dollars of income, generated $1.3 million in severance & sales taxes, and provided $3.6 million of other taxes & royalties(2). We’ll talk more about what’s going in Michigan with #CCS later in this post.
Why is #CCS Important?
Well-intentioned “Keep It In The Ground” types of environmentalists are unfortunately not helping mother earth with regard to climate change, air quality, or water conservation. It’s ironic that the most ardent “environmentalists” are the ones setting back environmentalism through their abstinence of #STEM education and their perpetuation of junk science. RMP uses data and real science to support our work and we are patiently hoping that maybe someday those folks that make protest signs and chain themselves to pipeline equipment will someday educate themselves about energy production rather than pretending to have it all figured out without doing any homework. RMP hopes that impassioned types will understand that they could actually be helping mother earth by following RMP and learning about the hydrogen economy and how the world can become GHG Negative by advocating for hydrogen fuel cells and the hydrogen infrastructure. Junk science and witch hunts ironically only serve to set back efforts to protect our natural resources.
In the mind of a stereotypical tie-dyed environmentalist without regard for science, if fossil fuels were stopped today from producing energy, the world would be a utopia of people holding hands and singing campfire songs celebrating clean air and clean water. In reality, however, if fossil fuels were stopped overnight there would be no food, no clean water and there would be largest die off of mankind in the history of the world. This is because crude oil and coal have become an entrenched part of our economy and energy mix. Crude oil and coal didn’t come about overnight and they’re not going to disappear overnight. RMP is the leading non-profit research analyst organization of oil in Michigan and we take on the API on a regular basis with regard to avarice, ignobility, and their misleading ad campaigns. RMP understands, however, that ending the use of crude oil for energy will be a migration that takes time and we must protect the workers who will need new jobs as we make a transition to smarter forms of energy production. RMP will never give the API or their cohorts a free pass for misleading the public with their pro oil monopolist propaganda, but RMP will also never succumb to the empty rhetoric of the “anti” crowd who disingenuously ignores their own culpability in the energy infrastructure that surrounds us today. RMP advocates for education and understanding with regard to our own complicity of oil usage in our economy; pots calling kettles black will get us nowhere. We all must work together to learn geology and energy science to make real progress.
The truth is that most people don’t understand that wind and solar energy provide zero percent of the world’s base load energy. RMP advocates for the hydrogen economy and fuel cells whereby wind, solar, and solid wastes can provide 100% of the world’s base load energy; but that is a long way off. Even with all the advancements of wind energy, it currently only provides 4% of US energy while providing 0% of base load needs. Solar energy is growing fast, but it provides only five tenths of 1% of US energy needs, while it provides 0% of our base load energy needs.
Do these numbers make you think? Do these numbers clue you in to why RMP is different the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, and other environmental groups? Do these numbers help you understand why it’s hard for RMP to respect certain rhetoric that comes from groups like Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch?
#CCS is a must for becoming GHG Negative and keeping American oil field workers employed while we ramp up new and less volatile jobs in a sustainable hydrogen economy. We must respect our dependency on crude oil and our own culpability in its use while we work diligently to wean ourselves off of it and find new jobs for oil workers. Producing oil from the sequestration of CO2 is one of the ways environmentalists and an oil industry in its winter years should be able to find common ground. When Sierra Club members work in concert with oil industry groups in a civil manner, RMP will have accomplished a milestone goal. We can move the ball down the field much much faster if we can bring leftists and rightists back to meet RMP in the middle.
#CCS is the most important thing we can do right now to make an impact on reducing anthropogenic GHG emissions to atmosphere. Not only is coal going to continue to be an integral part of providing energy for American consumers for years to come, it is even more integral to developing countries around the world. Coal is also very important in the manufacture of cement all over the world. Fertilizer production is also a large contributor of CO2. It is difficult for many environmental utopia seekers to admit that there is no magic wand to wave when it comes to a carbon neutral or GHG negative economy. It seems that is much easier to smoke a joint, make a protest sign, claim self-righteousness, and ignore the science and data for so many in the “environmental” crowd. RMP recently blogged about how ExxonMobil is poised to be one of the biggest difference makers in reducing GHG emissions because of their partnership with Fuel Cell Energy using #CCS & molten carbonate fuel cells. Keep it in the ground chants and protests, on the other hand, prohibit real progress when it comes to climate change and it’s time for RMP to call out some of you in our environmentalist community the same way we call out the API; bunkness is bunkness whether it be on the left or on the right. I have seen the far right and I have seen the far left and… no thank you, I’m perfectly comfortable in the middle even though it’s admittedly pretty lonely.
The best analogy I can think of for the importance of #CCS while we work to develop alternative forms of energy is this: if your house is on fire, the first thing you need to do is to make sure your family and pets get out safely before you focus on construction of your new house. Getting your family out is the immediate concern. Getting your insurance claim filed and hiring contractors to rebuild is something you can worry about after everyone is out safe and is the longer term concern. This is the same concept with #CCS in the sense that the immediate concern is reducing GHGs from established sources that currently produce a majority percentage of our energy and will continue to persist for the foreseeable future. The longer term concern is developing new energy infrastructure that does not produce GHGs like wind & solar coupled with the production of hydrogen for fuel cells; remember the hydrogen fuel cell component is key to making wind and solar base load capable for those times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
Michigan can be a leader for #CCS technology in the world. Developing and proving out the processes of capturing and sequestering CO2 can be shared with countries like India, China, and many other countries that will not only be relying on coal for decades to come but will actually be increasing their demand and consumption of coal. RMP has written about the reality of coal and we believe protesting coal and hoping for a utopian use of 100% renewable and carbon neutral energy in the near term is the most dangerous position any environmentalist can take with regard to air quality, water quality, and climate change. According to the IEA, coal use is expected to rise for decades to come because, like it or not, billions of people who desperately want electricity and have never had it before in their lifetime will be choosing coal because…you guessed it… it’s cheap and easy. You can stick your head in the sand like an ostrich, make a protest sign, or clench your fist in disagreement with the words I write, but that will not change this sobering reality: what I write & say is true; I have worked hard and I have done my homework. Nothing is so upsetting to a pretender environmentalist like having the truth put square into their face. This is why RMP remains committed to coal gasification technologies, HELE coal plants, molten carbonate fuel cells, and #CCS as well as our commitment to wind & solar; RMP takes a global approach even though we’re a tiny Michigan based non-profit 501(c)3.
What Is Going On With #CCS In Michigan?
RMP has been publishing our Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly magazine for two years now and we have been writing about a Michigan company named Core Energy LLC. Core Energy LLC is a leader in Michigan #CCS and is one of the only operators in Michigan currently capturing and sequestering CO2 into secure geologic formations. Core is the only operator in Michigan currently executing a US Department of Energy Phase 3 long term high-volume CO2 sequestration project. Merit Energy & Jordan Development are also pursuing #CCS in Michigan to a lesser extent.
In EOR using CO2, one or more wells are the injection wells and one or more wells are the producing wells. The idea is that the injection well is being used to push the oil over to the other well. Think of two straws poked vertically through the lid on either end of a shoebox where the shoebox is the hydrocarbon reservoir and the straws are the well bores. You inject something, in this case CO2, down the one straw into this closed loop system and that injection forces something out the other straw.
Michigan is a great test bed for developing #CCS technology because we have all the proper ingredients to make it cost effective. Remember RMP’s philosophy: always follow the money. If things can’t be done economically, they won’t get done. Money always has a critical role in energy projects. The cost of developing new technology is always higher because there is a learning curve associated with it. Michigan has a lot going for it with regard to #CCS because we have an abundance of all the ingredients to help keep the R&D costs of #CCS projects low. Let’s look at the fundamental things needed to make a #CCS project economical:
- You need formations that can accept the CO2 and produce oil which helps offset the costs of the R&D, labor costs, and CO2 infrastructure costs. Michigan has 800 known Silurian (Niagaran-Age) Pinnacle Reefs in our Niagaran formation from Manistee to Gaylord and then some.
- You need oil & gas know-how, infrastructure, and regulatory agencies that can oversee the safety of the project and the protection of our most valuable natural resource: fresh water. Michigan has thousands of wells drilled into the Niagaran formation, experienced operators, and we also have the MDEQ to oversee regulatory requirements to protect our fresh water.
- You need an abundant supply of anthropogenic carbon dioxide nearby to pipeline over to these Niagaran wells in order to pump the CO2 underground and sequester it. Michigan has thousands and thousands of Middle Devonian Antrim Shale gas wells very near the Niagaran wells that produce roughly 80% natural gas and 20% carbon dioxide. The Antrim makes over 1 million tons of CO2 each year that has otherwise just been vented to atmosphere.
Michigan is a prime candidate to develop #CCS technology as we meet all the main requirements very well. This is why the US Department of Energy chose Michigan as one of only six sites developing Phase 3 #CCS projects in the United States and Canada. Michigan’s Middle Devonian Age Antrim Shale generates approximately 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide each year from six central processing facilities which is currently vented to atmosphere. One of the largest gas-processing facilities in Otsego County generates about 1 billion cubic feet of CO2 each month on average over the last 10 years that has been vented to atmosphere. The average CO2 vented to atmosphere each year from this facility is about 15 billion cubic feet and the average CO2 produced from the Antrim as a whole is about 21 billion cubic feet each year. This CO2 is high quality CO2 for pipelines at about 99% purity.(3)
Let’s do some math to put Antrim CO2 production into perspective: If we convert 21 billion cubic feet of CO2 to pounds or tons, which is how most newspapers write about CO2 emissions, we have to multiply by a factor of 0.1146 and we get about 2.4 billion pounds of CO2 per year vented from the Antrim. If we divide that figure by 2,000 lbs per ton we get about 1.2 million tons of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere from Michigan’s Antrim Shale each year.
For comparison’s sake, the Monroe Power Plant, the biggest power plant in Michigan @ 3,300MW and powered by burning coal, emits about 34.8 billion pounds of CO2 per year to atmosphere, which is about 17.4 million tons. So, the Monroe Power Plant emits about 14 to 15 times more CO2 to atmosphere than the Antrim Shale as a whole. The Monroe Plant also emits about 104k tons of Sulphur Dioxide, 32k tons of Nitrous Oxides, and 780 lbs of Mercury to atmosphere. The Monroe Plant is ranked 7th in the United States for Carbon Dioxide emissions to atmosphere according to SourceWatch. The Monroe Plant was ranked 11th in the US for GHG emissions in a September 29, 2016 @freep article you can read by clicking here.
Plants like the Monroe Power Plant and many more are what #CCS technology is really all about down the road. Companies like Core Energy can use their knowledge and expertise to help reduce the CO2 emissions of plants like the Monroe Power Plant to near zero. This is the ultimate goal of #CCS ambitions and why the Department of Energy is helping to fund projects like those undertaken by Core Energy LLC in Northern Michigan. There will be many factors in reducing CO2 emissions from large emission sources but we are closer now than ever before to making these goals safe & economically feasible.
Recently RMP wrote about ExxonMobil & Fuel Cell energy teaming up to add molten carbonate fuel cells to a natural gas power plant in our Fuel Cells 101 post. There is perhaps no greater technology to get excited about than these molten carbonate fuel cells as their CO2 capture signature is like no other diagram out there: they create energy while concentrating CO2 rather than taxing the power plant of energy to capture CO2. Furthermore, molten carbonate fuel cells are modular and can be added as necessary to the power plant depending on the size of the plant thus making their economics better too.
What’s Next for #CCS Proliferation?
As we say repeatedly at RMP: always follow the money. The biggest hurdle with the ambitions of #CCS is and will always be cost. We are in the nascent stages of #CCS now but these are exciting times for advancements in the entire scope of #CCS technology. Michigan is demonstrating itself as a leader in CO2 sequestration with Core Energy LLC’s work in Northern Michigan at the Dover 33 EOR Unit. Fuel Cell Energy in Danbury, Connecticut is demonstrating that molten carbonate fuel cells are a potential game changer for the mass adoption of #CCS because of their cost effectiveness on the “capture” side of CO2. ExxonMobil is providing financial support to small companies like Fuel Cell Energy to take technologies like molten carbonate fuel cells to the next level of mass adoption.
RMP has also been writing and tweeting about coal gasification technologies like what Southern Company is doing in Mississippi with their Kemper Power Plant, which is turning coal into SynGas without any combustion of the coal. The gasification of coal allows plants like Kemper to produce 562 MW of energy from American coal with 60% reduced CO2 emissions and negligible NOx, SOx, PM, or Mercury emissions to atmosphere. With the addition of molten carbonate fuel cells, plants like Kemper can capture and sequester nearly 100% of CO2 associated with using American coal for safe energy with virtually no harmful emissions. RMP is Michigan’s authority on sustainable energy production and you can follow us on Twitter or like us on facebook to get regular updates as we create new energy maps and blog about sustainable energy advancements. Stay tuned as RMP continues to cover developments in #CCS and other advanced energy technologies. RMP will be writing many more posts about #CCS as news and additional information becomes available.
Check Out RMP’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells in Michigan Map
RMP has been demonstrating our oil well mapping software since High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) came to Michigan. We wanted to know where the HVHF wells were in our state and learn more about them but the maps just didn’t exist. We could not get straight answers to our many questions. Sure there was the MDEQ’s GeoWebFace and other mapping applications out there but we needed something more robust. That’s when RMP was born. I have been working on Michigan oil well data and writing my own software for about 7 years now and what separates RMP data from other data sources is our supplemental data table and exclusive software. By creating my own table that works in conjunction with MDEQ public data, I have been able to add hooks & sorting criteria to Michigan data you just can’t find anywhere else. Want to know which oils have ground water contamination issues? Want to know which wells target the Niagaran formation? Or which wells use CO2 EOR? There is no other place on the web that can match the Michigan made mapping software exclusive to RMP. Our CO2 EOR map shown below is a great example of a map you just won’t find anywhere else on the internet.
RMP’s Interactive Map of Michigan’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells
Click Here To Open RMP’s Michigan’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells Map Map In A New Full Screen Tab
2. Michigan Phase III Project Update by MRCSP – Note this is a dynamic link and numbers are updated monthly so the numbers quoted at the time of publication will not match the link depending on when you click the link.