March 27, 2013 — Work began last week on a 4,800-foot-deep research well in northeastern Carter County.
This project is part of the carbon dioxide (CO2) storage research mandated by a 2007 special session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Hanson Aggregates provided KGS with access to property at its AA Limestone quarry for the project.
Mike Lynch, a spokesman for the Kentucky Geological Survey, said the project objective is strictly to gather information.
“We can test for the ability of some formations to accept carbon dioxide to be stored in the pore space and other formations closer to the surface to seal it in,” Lynch said. “But no CO2 will be injected into this well. Other tests will be run on the samples we collect but that’s all.”
Lynch said concerns with global climate change have led to these types of projects.
“There has been research that says we need to reduce the carbon we put into the atmosphere,” Lynch said. “One way to do that is to collect it and store it permanently, deep in the ground.”
A similar project in Western Kentucky led to the successful storage of several hundred tons of CO2.
The information collected in this project will determine the suitability of the area for storage, but Lynch said there are no plans to store CO2 at this site.
Lynch said some local residents have expressed concerns about their well water. He said KGS is monitoring the wells for changes.
“We are doing this to assure the people that it will make no changes to the quality of their water,” Lynch said.
Hanson Aggregates is a subsidiary of Lehigh Hanson, Inc., which is part of the Heidelberg Cement Group, one of the largest building materials manufacturers in the world.
This well will be a stratigraphic-test well designed to collect geologic information about the nature of the deep subsurface formations in northeastern Kentucky, without actual CO2 injection.
KGS will obtain rock cores, geophysical well logs, water samples, and test properties of several deep formations penetrated in the well, including the Ordovician Knox Group and Rose Run Sandstone, and the Cambrian Mount Simon Sandstone.
The depth of these zones ranges from 3,000 to 4,700 feet below the surface. The research will help KGS and the state learn reservoir rock properties of the region and gather data needed to evaluate any potential for future CO2 storage along the Ohio River industrial corridor.
Comprehensive geologic and geophysical data will be acquired in the well, including almost 300 feet of core samples, native formation fluid samples, advanced downhole well logs, and standard reservoir tests.
No oil or natural gas is expected to be encountered in the well but the information obtained from the project may help oil and gas companies elsewhere in Eastern Kentucky.
KGS has contracts with four companies for work on the project. Sandia Technologies, of Houston, Texas, is managing the project. Crossrock Drilling of Pikeville constructed the well site and is drilling the well and reclaiming the site after project completion.
Coring services will be provided by CorPro of Pittsburgh, Pa., and well logs will be taken by Schlumberger, also of Houston.
The Energy Independence and Incentives Act of 2007 called for research into deep storage of CO2 in both the Eastern and Western Kentucky Coal Fields.
KGS conducted a similar project in 2009-10 in Hancock County in Western Kentucky.
The stratigraphic test well will pose no danger to people or property in the vicinity of the well site.
After the research project in Carter County is completed, the well will be permanently plugged in accordance with state regulations.
At this point in time, there are no announced plans for commercial CO2 storage in Carter County or surrounding counties.