Carbon dioxide (CO2) from energy consumption is a primary source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas. Injection of CO2 in coalbeds is a plausible method of reducing atmospheric emissions, and it can have the additional benefit of enhancing methane recovery from coal. Most previous studies have evaluated the merits of CO2 disposal in high-rank coals. The objective of this research is to determine the technical and economic feasibility of CO2 sequestration in, and enhanced coalbed methane (ECBM) recovery from, low-rank coals in the Texas Gulf Coast area. Our research included an extensive coal characterization program, deterministic and probabilistic simulation studies, and economic evaluations. We evaluated both CO2 and flue gas injection scenarios.
In this study coal core samples and well transient test data were obtained for characterization of Texas low-rank coals. Simulation studies evaluated the effects of well spacing, injectant fluid composition, injection rate, and dewatering on CO2 sequestration and ECBM recovery.
Probabilistic simulation of 100% CO2 injection in an 80-acre 5-spot pattern indicate that these coals can store 1.27 to 2.25 Bcf of CO2 with an ECBM recovery of 0.48 to 0.85 Bcf. Simulation results of 50% CO2 - 50% N2 injection in the same 80-acre 5-spot pattern indicate that these coals can store 0.86 to 1.52 Bcf of CO2, with an ECBM recovery of 0.62 to 1.10 Bcf. Simulation results of flue gas injection (87% N2 - 13% CO2) indicate that these same coals can store 0.34 to 0.59 Bcf of CO2 at depths of 6,200 ft, with an ECBM recovery of 0.68 to 1.20 Bcf.
Economic modeling of CO2 sequestration and ECBM recovery for 100% CO2 injection indicates predominately negative economic indicators for the reservoir depths and well spacings investigated, using natural gas prices ranging from $2 to $12 per Mscf and CO2 credits based on carbon market prices ranging from $0.05 to $1.58 per Mscf CO2 ($1.00 to $30.00 per ton CO2). Injection of flue gas (87% N2 - 13% CO2) results in better economic performance than injection of 100% CO2.
Moderate increases in either gas prices or carbon credits could generate attractive economic conditions that, combined with the close proximity of many CO2 point sources near unmineable coalbeds, could generate significant CO2 sequestration and ECBM potential in Texas low-rank coals.
Greenhouse gas emissions potentially constitute a major environmental problem. Texas emits approximately 255,651,224 tons of CO2 annually, which is about 10% of the total emitted in the United States. These emissions are mostly from the industrial and electric power sector. Any method that reduces net CO2 emissions would help mitigate the global greenhouse effect. CO2 sequestration in coals is one method that could help achieve this objective. CO2 injected in coal beds may have the dual benefits of CO2 disposal and enhanced coalbed methane recovery. CO2 injection could improve methane recovery and help maintain reservoir pressure, thus reducing operational costs.