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Research Questions

  1. What activities, equipment, and labor are required for transporting CO2 from a power plant or other source to an injection site?
  2. What activities, equipment, and labor are required for enhanced oil recovery by CO2 flooding?
  3. What activities, equipment, and labor are required to permanently store CO2 in a geologic formation?
  4. If emission reduction policy were to be enacted, how quickly could the industrial base supporting the transportation and sequestration of CO2 be expanded to meet the needs determined by the previous questions?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) prior to its being emitted into the atmosphere, then either using it in a commercial application or storing it in geological formations for hundreds to thousands of years. If policies aimed at large reductions of CO2 emissions from industrial sources and power plants are enacted, more CCS will be needed. RAND researchers explored the ability of the industrial base supporting the transportation and storage of CO2 to expand, assessing the industrial base for transportation and injection for CO2 for both geologic storage and enhanced oil recovery. They also identified and quantified the activities, equipment, and labor required for transporting CO2 to an injection site, using it in oil recovery, and storing it in a geologic formation. RAND developed four scenarios for future CCS development and determined that under most of them, significant expansion of geologic storage capacity is required after 2025, and that based on current activities, it appears that the industrial base supporting the development of geologic storage has the ability to meet increased needs for CO2 storage.

Key Findings

Activities Supporting the CO2 Storage Industrial Base Are Largely Shared with the Oil and Gas Sector

  • The CO2 storage industrial base comprises three core activities: transportation of CO2 by pipeline, oil recovery by CO2 flooding, and geologic storage.
  • With only a few small differences, the industrial base used to build and maintain natural gas and petroleum product pipelines is the same industrial base that would be used to build and maintain pipelines to transport CO2.
  • Oil recovery by CO2 flooding is already widely deployed commercially by the oil and gas industry.
  • Many activities supporting geologic storage are shared with the oil and gas sector, but post-injection monitoring, verification, and accounting operations must occur both at oil recovery sites intending to demonstrate storage and at geologic storage sites.
  • The necessary technologies for this are being demonstrated but have not yet been deployed commercially.

Oil Recovery Operations Can Facilitate Development of Geologic Storage Industrial Capabilities

  • From an equipment perspective, injecting CO2 into a deep saline formation is similar to injecting CO2 into a depleted oil reservoir, but additional technologies need to be deployed to support geologic storage of CO2.

The Carbon Storage Industrial Base Has Demonstrated the Capacity to Meet the Development Needs for EOR and Geologic Storage

  • Because so much of the industrial base for EOR and CO2 storage is the same or similar to that currently drawn upon for the natural gas and oil industries, researchers found no major barriers to ramping up operations to support CO2 storage.

The research reported in this report was sponsored by the National Energy Technology Laboratory and conducted in the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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