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COMPARISON OF THREE OPTIONS FOR GEOLOGIC SEQUESTRATION OF CO2
- A CASE STUDY FOR CALIFORNIA -
SALLY M. BENSON
Earth Sciences Division
E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
One Cyclotron Rd., Berkeley, Ca., 94720
Options for sequestration of CO2 are best viewed in light of the regional distribution of CO2
sources and potential sequestration sites. This study examines the distribution of carbon
emissions from fossil fuel power plants in California and their proximity to three types of
reservoirs that may be suitable for sequestration: (1) active or depleted oil fields, (2) active or
depleted gas fields, and (3) brine formations. This paper also presents a preliminary assessment
of the feasibility of sequestering CO2 generated from large fossil-fuel fired power plants in
California and discusses the comparative advantages of three different types of reservoirs for this
purpose. Based on a volumetric analysis of sequestration capacity and current CO2 emission rates
from oil/gas fired power plants, this analysis suggests that oil reservoirs, gas fields and brine
formations can all contribute significantly to sequestration in California. Together they could
offer the opportunity to meet both short and long term needs. In the near term, oil and gas
reservoirs are the most promising because the trapping structures have already stood the test of
time and opportunities for offsetting the cost of sequestration with revenues from enhanced oil
and gas production. In the long term, if the trapping mechanisms are adequately understood and
deemed adequate, brine formations may provide an even larger capacity for geologic
sequestration over much of California.
The State of California, has a population of 34 million people and supports an annual
economy of $1,280 Billion per year, placing it amongst the top 10 economies in the world.
Covering over 411,469 km2, California encompasses a diversity of geologic terrains, from the
volcanoes of the Cascade Mountain range in the north to the deep sedimentary troughs in the
Central and Imperial Valleys in the south, from the Sierra Nevada Mountain range to the east and
the 1500 km coastline to the west (see Figure 1). Rich in natural resources, it has the fourth
largest oil and gas production in the United States, and extensive groundwater and surface water
resources. All of these features make the State of California attractive for a regional case study
for assessing the feasibility of geologic sequestration of CO2.
Current annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in California total 380 million
metric tons (MMT); of which 56.5% are from transportation, 16.2% from electrical generation,
14.4% from industrial sources such as refineries and cement kilns, 8.5% from residential heating
and cooking, and 4.4% from commercial uses (California Energy Commission, 1998). Emissions
are expected to increase about 10% by 2010 (California Energy Commission, 1998). Over 95%
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Benson, S.M. Comparison of three options for geologic sequestration of CO2 - a case study for California, article, September 1, 2000; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc721293/m1/1/: accessed November 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.