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Testing to begin at Carter County Research Well

Testing will soon begin at a well drilled in Carter County this spring, to evaluate the carbon dioxide storage potential of deep geologic formations in northern Kentucky and adjacent southern Ohio. The Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky is overseeing the drilling and testing research project. The well was drilled to a depth of 4,835 feet in early April on the property of the AA Limestone quarry, operated by Hanson Aggregates, which provided access to the site.

The testing, expected to begin during the week of July 21-27, will determine properties such as formation rock strength and pressure, porosity of the different formations, and the chemical makeup of the waters in the rock. All of the testing will occur at locations deeper than 3,000 feet. (The first 3,000 feet of the well is cased in steel.) The tests will follow procedures developed by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and are expected to last a week to ten days.

A similar deep well was drilled and tested at Hancock County in western Kentucky in 2009-10. Both projects were conducted as a result of a mandate from the Kentucky General Assembly in the Energy Independence and Incentives Act of 2007. The purpose of the projects is to determine the capacity of deep formations in eastern and western Kentucky to store carbon dioxide created by human activities such as coal-based electricity generation and other industries.

No plans have been made for large-scale commercial CO2 storage in Carter County or surrounding counties. The research will help KGS and the state to learn the properties of the deep geology in the region and gather data needed to evaluate any potential for future CO2 storage along the Ohio River industrial corridor.

There are several geologic formations in the deep subsurface of this area with properties that may be suitable for future CO2 storage. Other formations above the potential carbon-storage depths may help to seal any stored carbon dioxide deep underground. 

When the research work has been completed, permanent plugs will be placed in the deep well as required by state regulations.

Drilling rig crew members work on the Carter County site,
where the deep research well was drilled to a depth of 4,835 feet.