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Utah Geological Survey receives $1.1 million DOE grant to study the carbon storage potential across Utah to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Salt Lake City (May 8, 2024) –The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) was awarded a $1.1 million cooperative agreement from the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management to study Utah’s geologic carbon storage potential. Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is a process used to capture carbon dioxide emitted by an industrial or energy source and transport it to a location where it can be stored underground for significantly long periods, such as within deep, confined rock formations or reservoirs.

“CCUS is an important step in Utah’s energy future, particularly in industries where high carbon dioxide emissions are hard to avoid. This project will set the foundation for future low-carbon business investment in Utah by providing a geologic assessment of the carbon storage resources available in Utah,” said UGS Project Geologist Gabriela St. Pierre, Ph.D. “The assessment and underlying data will be made available in a user-friendly web application available to industry, government officials, and the public.”

Map of Utah showing ‘Geo-Regions,’ which represent areas in Utah with similar geologic histories, basin histories, and/or structural styles. Each Geo-Region will be evaluated for carbon storage potential. Right of map: An example stratigraphic column of the eastern Uinta Basin, with several reservoir-seal pairs that may be suitable for carbon storage.

Map of Utah showing ‘Geo-Regions,’ which represent areas in Utah with similar geologic histories, basin histories, and/or structural styles. Each Geo-Region will be evaluated for carbon storage potential. Right: An example stratigraphic column of the eastern Uinta Basin, with several reservoir-seal pairs that may be suitable for carbon storage. Each reservoir-seal pair will be mapped and assigned a relative geologic risk to determine areas with the state’s most favorable carbon storage potential.

The geological evaluation of Utah will begin with a comprehensive collection of all known subsurface data using the UGS’s Utah Core Research Center cores and cuttings, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining’s well log database, and rock outcrops and field studies. The aim is to better understand possible reservoirs and seals that may effectively store carbon dioxide underground. The research will also draw on findings and data from over two decades of carbon storage projects, including a newly funded CarbonSAFE Phase II project in the Uinta Basin.

Once all data is gathered, it will be analyzed by geo-region or areas of the state with similar geologic and basin histories. Maps will be created in select locations to illustrate the extent of key reservoir/seal pairs. They will be ranked based on estimated geologic risk, such as the risk of carbon dioxide leakage from a rock reservoir.

As part of this project, the UGS, with partners at the University of Utah, has created a community engagement plan to address the needs of stakeholders across the state and understand how future CCUS projects may contribute to economic advancement for Utah. Community and stakeholders include leaders from tribal and municipal governments, representatives of non-profit organizations, local environmental groups, labor leaders, and community members at large and private landholders.

Ultimately, this project sets the stage for future business investment in the state, particularly in rural areas, and fulfills national decarbonization goals by progressing low-risk, economical, commercial-scale CCUS projects in Utah.