Contact: Brandon C. Nuttall
North Central/Southeastern Section Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting, April 2-5, 2002, Lexington, KY
Nuttall, Brandon C., and Drahovzal, James A., Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington, Kentucky
Keywords: greenhouse gas, CO2, adsorption, methane, enhanced recovery
Increased emissions of CO2, especially from the combustion of fossil fuels, are being linked to global climate change. One group of proposed carbon management technologies involves geologic sequestration of CO2. A possible, but untested, sequestration strategy is to inject CO2 into organic-rich shales of Devonian age. Devonian black shales underlie approximately two-thirds of Kentucky and are generally thicker and deeper in the Illinois and Appalachian Basin portions of Kentucky. The Devonian black shales serve as both the source and trap for large quantities of natural gas; total gas in place for the shales in Kentucky is estimated to be between 63 and 112 trillion cubic feet. Most of this natural gas is adsorbed on clay and kerogen surfaces, analogous to the way methane is stored in coal beds. In coals, it has been demonstrated that CO2 is preferentially adsorbed, displacing methane at a ratio of two to one. Black shales may similarly desorb methane in the presence of CO2. If this is the case, black shales may be an excellent sink for CO2, and have the added benefit of serving to enhance natural gas production.
This untested concept that black, organic-rich Devonian shales could serve as a significant geologic sink for CO2 is the subject of proposed research. To accomplish this investigation, drill cuttings and cores will be selected from the Kentucky Geological Survey Well Sample and Core Library. CO2 adsorption analyses will be performed in order to determine the gas-storage potential of the shale and to identify shale facies with the most sequestration potential. In addition, new drill cuttings and sidewall core samples will be acquired to investigate specific black-shale facies, their uptake of CO2, and the resultant displacement of methane. Advanced logging techniques (elemental capture spectroscopy) will be used to investigate possible correlations between adsorption capacity and geophysical log measurements.
Should the Devonian black shales of Kentucky prove to be a viable geologic sink for CO2, their extensive occurrence in Paleozoic basins across North America would make them an attractive regional target for CO2 storage and enhanced natural gas production.