Industry News

University of Wyoming begins statewide CO2 pipeline study in collaboration with carbon capture companies

by | Jul 7, 2023

A partnership has been formed between the University of Wyoming’s (UW) Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute and Michigan-based carbon capture company and energy industry groups to develop a significant expansion of Wyoming’s carbon capture and storage infrastructure.

The Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute and Carbon Solutions – a low-carbon energy research and development group – has revealed that the duo will co-lead the first step of the Wyoming Trails Carbon Hub project following a U$3m grant from the US Department of Energy.

Collaboratively, the Wyoming Trails Carbon Hub, Carbon Solutions, UW’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute and additional partners seek to develop a statewide carbon capture and storage (CCS) pipeline network which better connects carbon dioxide emitters with CO2 storage facilities.

“The big picture is a 10-year-plus vision for what it would look to capture all the CO2 in Wyoming,” said Richard Middleton, CEO and co-founder, Carbon Solutions.

The first 18-month study of the commercial CO2 pipeline system will be led by Richard Middleton and Eric Robertson – a senior reservoir engineer from the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute.

The current Wyoming CO2 pipeline runs from ExxonMobil’s Shute Creek facility in the southwest corner of the state to the southeast corner of Montana, and at several points offshoots link to ConocoPhillips’ Lost Cabin gas processing plant in Fremont County and enhanced oil recovery sites. At present, oil and gas companies use the pipeline to boost production by injecting the CO2 into the earth to push out more oil.

The current pipeline, however, does not connect with many of the state’s CO2 emitters and potential carbon storage sites. The Wyoming Trails Carbon Hub pipeline concept would change this by putting the state and companies in a better position to meet their respective CCS goals.

“The whole purpose of this project is to get the infrastructure needed in the state to actually meet the state’s goals of carbon sequestration,” said Robertson. “In order to do that, you have to match up carbon sources with carbon sinks.”

The first designs for a commercial statewide CO2 pipeline will start to be drawn up in autumn 2023 by Carbon Solutions and the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute. The pair will study the optimal route to convey captured CO2 from industrial facilities to emerging carbon storage sites around the state.

“The Department of Energy has asked that we develop a workforce readiness plan, a regulatory plan, a community benefits plan, an environmental safety and health analysis,” added Robertson. “There’s going to be a lot that goes into this.”

Due to the project’s scale, it is estimated that the initial planning stage will take up to 18 months to complete. The pipeline concept will be designed to transport up to 25 million tons of CO2 annually but could carry more if required.

“If you want to get to net zero, pretty much every major point source of CO2 needs to be capturing CO2,” concluded Middleton. “We just want to make sure we get the bigger picture right and plan this the best possible way.

“Even if you can try to reduce CO2 emissions from power through renewable energy, you still have hard to decarbonize industries – cement, steel, chemical manufacturing. From my perspective, CCS has to be part of the solution.”

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