Contact: Brandon Nuttall

Analysis of the Devonian Black Shale in Kentucky for Potential Carbon Dioxide Sequestration and Enhanced Natural Gas Production

2003 GSA Annual Meeting and Exposition November 2-5, 2003

Nuttall1, Brandon C. (presenter), bnuttall@uky.edu, Drahovzal1, James A., drahovzal@uky.edu, Eble1, Cortland F., eble@uky.edu, Bustin2, R. Marc, mbustin@eos.ubc.ca

1Kentucky Geological Survey, 228 Mining and Mineral Resources Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0107, Phone: 859-257-5500, Fax: 859-257-1147

2Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, 6339 Stores Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4, Phone: 604-822-2449, Fax: 604-822-6088

CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels have been linked to global climate change. Proposed carbon management technologies include geologic sequestration of CO2. A possible, but untested, sequestration strategy is to inject CO2 into organic-rich shales. Devonian black shales underlie approximately two-thirds of Kentucky and are thicker and deeper in the Illinois and Appalachian Basin portions of Kentucky than in central 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 methane storage in coal beds. In coals, it has been demonstrated that CO2 is preferentially adsorbed, displacing methane. Black shales may similarly desorb methane in the presence of CO2.

The concept that black, organic-rich Devonian shales could serve as a significant geologic sink for CO2 is the subject of current research. To accomplish this investigation, drill cuttings and cores were selected from the Kentucky Geological Survey Well Sample and Core Library. Methane and carbon dioxide adsorption analyses are being performed to determine the gas-storage potential of the shale and to identify shale facies with the most sequestration potential. In addition, sidewall core samples are being acquired to investigate specific black-shale facies, their potential CO2 uptake, and the resulting displacement of methane. Advanced logging techniques (elemental capture spectroscopy) are being investigated for possible correlations between adsorption capacity and geophysical log measurements.

Initial estimates indicate a sequestration capacity of 5.3 billion tons CO2 in the Lower Huron Member of the Ohio shale in parts of eastern Kentucky and as much as 28 billion tons total in the deeper and thicker portions of the Devonian shales in Kentucky. Should the 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 economic CO2 storage and enhanced natural gas production.

© 2003 Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky
Created 1-Oct-2003