The Permian Basin in western Texas is associated with oil and gas extraction and the carbon emissions that go with it. Now, emerging technology may help the Basin cut greenhouse gas outputs.
Disused Permian oil fields could be the perfect location for carbon sequestration. This process is better known as carbon capture and storage (CCS). It involves storing CO2 so it can’t escape into the atmosphere.
A recent study published in the journal Geology looked at potential storage sites in the Delaware Basin. The scientists examined areas where fluids and gases were injected into rock formations. They found that the areas where oil drilling previously occurred recorded lower seismic pressures than areas where no drilling had taken place.
“So, where oil production occurred previously, current injection results in significantly lower pressure such that it’s much less likely to trigger earthquakes,” explains lead scientist Mark Zoback. “It’s not inconceivable that at some point, if you injected enough, you could probably cause an earthquake. But here in the area we study, we are able to document that what happened previously strongly affects how current operational processes affect the likelihood of earthquake triggering.”
The authors stressed that their findings don’t mean all disused oil wells are suitable for storing CO2. Each location would need careful study by planners, they said. This examination should include the geological makeup of the rock formation.