Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Press Release - ARRA Funds to Study Carbon Sequestration


THURSDAY, SEPT. 17, 2009

Evan Dreyer, 720.350.8370,
Vincent Matthews, 303.882.6580,


A $4.8 million research project that will investigate the suitability of geologic formations deep under northwestern Colorado for long-term sequestration of carbon dioxide has been awarded a federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The winning proposal, "Characterization of Most Promising Sequestration Formations in the Rocky Mountain Region," was submitted by a public-private consortium headed by the Colorado Geological Survey and the University of Utah. Other partners include the Utah Geological Survey, Shell Exploration and Production, Tri-State Generation and Transmission and Schlumberger Carbon Services.

The $3.8 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy announced Wednesday is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant program required project proponents to provide 20 percent matching funds, bringing the total project funds to $4.8 million.

"Congratulations to the Colorado Geological Survey and all who collaborated in this winning proposal," Gov. Ritter said. "Finding cleaner ways of producing and consuming traditional fuels is key to meeting our climate initiative targets and a vital goal of my administration's New Energy Economy Initiative. This project will enable us to expand our research into the viability of climate protection technologies such as carbon sequestration in Northwest Colorado and throughout the Rockies."

Colorado has a number of potential opportunities for carbon storage, including storage in oil and gas reservoirs, in coalbed reservoirs, in deep rock aquifers containing salt water and through advanced mineralization engineering. The new project examines the storage potential of deep saline aquifers.

The specific goal of the project is to evaluate whether three formations located about 8,000 feet underground can be used to capture and store carbon dioxide, or CO2. While the project site is located on a Colorado State Land Board tract south of the Craig Power Station, the three formations are widely found across the Rockies. Two of the formations, the Entrada and Weber formations, are comprised of ancient sand dunes. The third formation, the Dakota formation, is made up of ancient coastal deposits.

"This is exciting stuff," said Vince Matthews, director of the Colorado Geological Survey. "Since these formations are found throughout the Rockies, the results of this research should be very useful to carbon sequestration work in a number of states."

Matthews also noted that the project will expand on the Colorado Geological Survey's previous work on carbon sequestration and build on its previous work with the Southwest Partnership for Carbon Sequestration. In 2005, Geological Survey published "CO2 Sequestration Potential of Colorado," a detailed characterization of carbon emissions and carbon storage potential in Colorado.

Matthews will serve as a co-principal investigator along with and Dr. Brian McPherson from the University of Utah, which will administer project funding.

A CGS field team will map the surface geology with helicopter support and analyze available seismic and borehole data in the vicinity of the large structure. CGS will also obtain and analyze rock cores from three formations at a depth of about 8,000 feet.

CGS Senior Petroleum Geologist Genevieve Young will integrate all of the geologic data and coordinate with the University of Utah on a series of computer models to analyze the potential for CO2 sequestration in these formations.

The Utah Geological Survey will extend the results of the detailed site characterization to the general region.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Shell Exploration and Production, Schlumberger Carbon Services are providing $1 million in matching funds.

The northwestern Colorado project is one of 11 projects awarded a total of $75.5 million to conduct site characterization of promising geologic formations for carbon dioxide storage.

These Recovery Act projects will increase the understanding of the potential to safely and permanently store carbon dioxide deep underground. The information gained from these projects will further efforts to develop a national assessment of carbon dioxide storage capacity in deep geologic formations.

Copies of "CO2 Sequestration Potential of Colorado" are available on DVD at the Colorado Geological Survey's online bookstore: