MRCSP Reports

MRCSP Research Reports

The MRCSP Final Technical Report details MRCSP’s Phase III Large-Scale Injection Project, translating the lessons learned from the development and operation of a commercial-scale CCUS and EOR project in northern Michigan. The project successfully injected more than one million metric tons of CO2 into oil fields in the Northern Niagaran Pinnacle Reef Trend (NNPRT) for geologic sequestration and EOR. This commercial-scale test provided additional real-world knowledge that has been used to further refine technologies and methods, reduce uncertainties, and demonstrate safety and effectiveness to increase public acceptance. The Final Technical Report provides an overview of Phase 3 efforts including key technology developments, advancement in understanding of the regional geology, and technical demonstration of large-scale CO2 injection and storage. Specific topical reports on the subjects covered in the Final Technical Report are also available through EDX.

The Appalachian Basin Geoteam consists of geologists from the state geological surveys of Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Pennsylvania and West Virginia led the research related to enhanced recovery opportunities in oil and gas fields, while Kentucky led the work associated with enhanced gas recovery (EGR) opportunities in organic-rich shales. The Appalachian Basin Geoteam evaluated reservoirs amenable to CO2-EOR and EGR using a combination of data sources and technical approaches.


The Geoteam characterized the subsurface geology of the area in stepwise fashion, starting with existing geologic maps and fields/pools data generated as part of previous MRCSP regional characterization research. With this data, the Geoteam correlated stratigraphy and generated cross sections to delineate the extent, depths and thicknesses of those formations that may serve as reservoirs for either miscible or immiscible enhanced recovery projects. In addition, the team prepared structure and isopach maps for prospective formations, as well as assessments of gross and net porosity of these units. Once prospective localities were identified, the Geoteam selected a short list of oil fields in each of the three states for assessment for case study preparation.

The mid-Atlantic onshore studies were led by Rutgers University and the report focuses on the onshore New Jersey-Delaware-Maryland Coastal Plains and the northern Baltimore Canyon Trough (BCT). Lower to mid-Cretaceous age rock formations were identified on the onshore Mid-Atlantic U.S. Coastal Plain and offshore northern BCT that show great potential as reservoirs for carbon sequestration. These targets are constrained using a sequence stratigraphic approach by integration of multi-channel seismic, geophysical well-log, core, and biostratigraphic datasets. In the onshore coastal plain of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, the Lower Cretaceous Waste Gate Formation and mid-Cretaceous Potomac Formation/Group were divided into three major sequences (Waste Gate-Potomac Unit I, Potomac Unit II, and Potomac Unit III). The analysis concluded that Waste Gate-Potomac Unit I sequence is most suitable for carbon storage, as it has thick, correlatable sands in New Jersey and Maryland that are well confined in New Jersey and could store potentially large volumes of CO2 (~ 8-34 Gt). In the offshore, we evaluate the mid-Cretaceous Logan Canyon Formation which we divide into three sequences which show potential for large volumes of CO2 storage (~5.9 Gt on the Great Stone Dome (GSD). The Logan Canyon Sands are an excellent target for carbon storage in the offshore BCT; they are thick, correlatable sands with high permeabilities and porosities, and are confined by the thick Dawson Canyon Shale. Sands are particularly thick, porous, and very permeable in wells on the GSD, which provides a great structural trap, and as such is a world-class target for carbon sequestration.

Geologists from the Indiana Geological and Water Survey (IGWS) completed the Assessment of Storage for Ordovician-Cambrian units. This task has the support of Kentucky Geological Survey, Western Michigan University, Ohio Division of Geological Survey (ODGS), and Pennsylvania Geological Survey (PAGS). This report concerns the Ordovician-Cambrian reservoirs and seals and presents the methodology and results of storage resource estimates for the region. This is followed by a discussion of the potential of the Maquoketa Group and equivalent units as a seal and on the seal/reservoir of the Trenton Limestone, Knox Supergroup, and their equivalent units in the MRCSP region.

The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) has incorporated the work of geologic research teams (Geoteams) in its regional characterization, project planning and carbon dioxide (CO2) injection implementation work since the partnership was established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2003. Over this 16-year period, the cohort of Geoteams has grown from five to ten states and has contributed to the characterization of geologic sequestration opportunities, refinement of reservoir and seal data, and supported injection efforts through both predictive and post-injection assessments.


This report describes the research carried out by the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS). Triassic rift basins of the eastern United States present a potential option for long term carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration. Exposed and buried basins are located near large point CO2 sources. Because of their similar origins, comparable fill successions indicate a level of reproducibility that can be conveyed between basins. The thick rock successions of the exposed Culpeper and Gettysburg basins served as proxies for understanding of the basin sequences. Their study allowed recognition of five mappable assemblages of rock types, herein termed lithofacies associations. These lithofacies associations were formed by alluvial fan, braided and meandering streams and marginal and distal lake depositional processes.

This report details the work led by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological Survey to evaluate the structure of nine formations in the Appalachian Basin of Ohio to assess seal integrity and whether carbon dioxide (CO2) migration pathways could pose a potential risk. As part of Phase II MRCSP work, the Pennsylvania Geological Survey led the characterization of the Llandovery Silurian (“middle Silurian”) to Middle Devonian regional geologic characterization CO2 utilization and storage. This preliminary assessment included generalized, regional-scale mapping, as well as the development of relatively coarse structure and isochore maps of stratigraphic intervals of interest for the Appalachian Basin. Because this stratigraphic interval offers several enhanced oil recovery targets and secondary targets for CO2 storage, the Ohio Geological Survey undertook efforts in Phase III to characterize the Ohio’s portion of the Appalachian Basin more precisely and to resolve inconsistencies within Ohio’s formation tops. This study refined the subsurface correlations of the Silurian-through-Devonian stratigraphic section in Ohio. Higher-resolution isochore mapping of the CO2 storage reservoirs and seals provides greater detail of potential high-porosity zones and potential structural influence on the interval.

Five geologic cross sections (labeled A through E) were constructed onshore across the parts of the MRCSP Region west of the Valley and Ridge Province, and one section (labeled F) was constructed beginning onshore in New Jersey and running eastward to offshore areas examined for carbon storage. Regional and local stratigraphic units were used in these cross sections to show current nomenclature as well as highlighting specific units/features pertinent to carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) opportunities in the region. Each cross section uses 15 to 25 deep wells and other geologic information to illustrate the relative depth, thickness and location of rock units in the subsurface.

The Michigan team at Western Michigan University has provided technical analysis and support of the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Northern Michigan Silurian Pinnacle reefs. With Core Energy, LLC as the industry partner, this project has assessed the potential for EOR in known fields in the Michigan Pinnacle reefs and the capacity for CO2 storage in the reef reservoirs as they are depleted and after reservoir abandonment. This project managed by Core Energy, LLC, involves the only commercial CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery floods within the MRCSP region. The Silurian pinnacle reef trend shows significant potential for CO2-EOR: this play is relatively new, with approximately 60% of the wells in the largest Niagaran fields still accessible. Most wells have modern logs and there are many cores, core analyses, pressure tests and produced water analyses available for study from these fields. These carbonate reservoirs in Michigan have produced sufficient oil to warrant evaluation for additional recovery efforts.


The role of the Michigan team was to collect and analyze all relevant data about reservoir properties, including lithologic and depositional characteristics of the reservoir formations and porosity and fluid flow properties through different compartments in the reservoir. The team has also developed models that represent the geological and physical characteristics of the reservoir and seal system.

This report describes the efforts to drill and complete a well in the St. Peter sandstone for characterization and evaluation of storage potential in northern Michigan. However, as presented in this report, the well was not drilled and completed up to the intended target intervals due to drilling related difficulties. While the drilling issues were being resolved, the new Class VI injection well regulations were finalized by the US EPA. MRCSP efforts focused on evaluating CO2 storage and containment using site characterization, modeling, and monitoring in conjunction with the ongoing CO2-EOR operations in the same area. This report describes work associated with the initial test well, the State Chester and MRCSP Well No. 1, drilled to a depth of about 7,968 feet TVD, and subsequently plugged and designated as temporarily abandoned. A high-level overview of data collected and analyzed is provided for shallower units.

This report compiles the results of geologic characterization of late-stage reefs, active EOR reefs, and new EOR reefs in the Northern Niagaran Pinnacle Reef Trend (NNPRT) in Michigan to demonstrate developed methodologies, geologic variability, and reservoir potential for CO2 storage. Conducting CO2 injection and monitoring in these settings provide significant insights for addressing the project objectives: assessment of injectivity in complex carbonate reef deposits; assessing CO2 trapping mechanisms in a closed reservoir system; assessing any final oil recovery from transitional or residual oil zones in a field where CO2 flooding is nearing completion; evaluating the transition from EOR to storage of CO2; assessing regional commercialization; assessing new technologies for tracking CO2, brine, and oil movements underground; and monitoring options in a closed reservoir with oil, residual oil, and water zones.

The report describes the regional analysis of the Northern Niagaran Pinnacle Reef Trend (NNPRT) in Northern Michigan as part of the MRCSP programs Regional Assessment goals.The goal of this task was to perform an initial assessment of the geologic storage capacity and injectivity of the Northern Fairway of Michigan’s Niagaran Reef Trend. This was achieved through three main objectives: 1) development of a reef atlas, 2) understanding the regional trends in geology, and 3) estimating CO2 and CO2-EOR resources. Data collected across multiple subtasks were integrated into a mappable database that could be accessed from many of the leading software. The reef atlas was used to map the reefs and associated characteristics across the entire NNPRT. Several methodologies were explored to estimate the CO2 and CO2-EOR resources across the trend which included three scenarios: 1) storage only using fluid substitution and volumetric estimations, 2) CO2-EOR which applied proximity analysis concepts and measured performance metrics from the Core Energy reefs to predict performance at all oil reefs, and 3) enhanced storage scenario which combined CO2-EOR with fluid substitution to represent maximized storage after completion of CO2-EOR.

“The MRCSP regional geology Capstone report summarizes the regional characterization of geologic storage subtasks performed under MRCSP Phase III. The regional characterization work was completed by the state geological surveys of Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia along with Western Michigan University and Rutgers University. Building on the Phases I and II, the Phase III research was focused on key research topics identified in previous MRCSP efforts:


[1] Regional Geologic Cross Sections for Potential Storage and Containment Zones; [2] Appalachian Basin: Enhanced Recovery Opportunities; [3] Michigan Basin: Assessment of Enhanced Oil Recovery Using Carbon Dioxide in Silurian Pinnacle Reefs; [4] Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain and Adjacent Offshore Region: Characterization of Carbon Storage Targets; [5] Ordovician-Cambrian Units: Hierarchical Evaluation of Geologic Carbon Storage Resource Estimates; [6] Upper Silurian to Middle Devonian Strata of Ohio: Structural Characterization of Potential CO2 Reservoirs and Adjacent Strata; [7] Triassic Rift Basins: Preliminary Study of Long-Term CO2 Storage Potential


Together, the regional characterization effort developed useful products to support project developers, policy makers and other stakeholders in the MRCSP region seeking to understand where potential storage exists relative to large stationary sources of CO2 emissions.”

During the MRCSP Phase III monitoring period, over 1 million metric tons of CO2 was injected into ten Silurian-age (Niagaran) pinnacle reef reservoirs in Otsego County, Michigan that are operated by Core Energy, LLC. There are over 800 pinnacle reefs in northern Michigan, and collectively, these geologic features have sufficient capacity to store several hundred million metric tons of CO2. Moreover, most of the reefs are oil-bearing and went through primary production in the 1970s and 1980s; therefore, by injecting CO2 into the reefs, there is a real opportunity to realize additional (enhanced) oil recovery (EOR) and to permanently store CO2 after EOR. A key objective of the MRCSP Phase III project is to evaluate the effectiveness of various technologies for monitoring CO2 that has been injected into deep geologic formations. Monitoring may be required at CO2 storage sites for a variety of reasons, including to meet UIC Class II (EOR sites) or Class VI (storage only sites) permit requirements or EPA greenhouse gas reporting rule requirements or to qualify for tax credits under the 45Q tax credit rule. The results of this monitoring study should prove useful to operators considering using carbonate pinnacle reefs of Northern Michigan for CO2 storage.

MRCSP conducted analysis of CO2 flow patterns using distributed temperature sensing (DTS) data acquired from the Chester 16 pinnacle reef located in Otsego County, Michigan. The reef has one injection well Chester 6-16 and one monitoring well Chester 8-16 where DTS is installed. DTS provides a means to track temperature within the wellbores in real time and characterize the migration patterns of CO2 in the subsurface when DTS data is combined with other operational data such as the injection rates, bottomhole pressures and temperature. The primary objective of this study was to determine the distribution of CO2 inflow zones in the A1 Carbonate and Brown Niagaran formations.

Microseismic monitoring is the passive recording of very small-scale seismic energy events occurring underground. Microseismic monitoring has been proposed as a monitoring technology for CCUS sites to monitor fracturing before it becomes sufficiently extensive to cause leakage. This study aimed to determine if CO2 injection into the Niagaran pinnacle reefs in northern Michigan is likely to generate microseismic events. The Niagaran reefs are relatively small, closed features making it possible to observe a large pressure increase by injecting a relatively small volume of CO2. In this study, two microseismic monitoring events were conducted 39 months apart during re-pressurization of the Dover 33 reef to evaluate the potential for CO2-injection induced seismicity in Silurian-age carbonate reef depleted oil reservoirs.

A cross-well seismic survey was acquired in the Chester 16 reef to attempt to locate 85,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) that were injected into the A-1 Carbonate and Brown Niagaran Formations earlier. The technique of conducting multiple cross-well seismic surveys over time, including a pre-CO2 injection (baseline) survey, has been used elsewhere to monitor CO2 injected into the subsurface. In this study, a baseline cross-well survey was not obtained; nevertheless, it was possible to generate an image that is a plausible representation of the CO2 plume. This conclusion is supported by other monitoring and modeling results from the Chester 16 reef that provide an independent indication about the likely position of the injected CO2.

This report presents the results of BHG surveys conducted in the Lawnichak-Myskier 1-33 well in the Dover 33 reef by Tellus Gravity and Micro-g LaCoste in 2013, 2016, and 2018. A comparison of the data from the three surveys was performed to determine the feasibility of BHG to detect and monitor the location of the injected CO2 in the reef over time. In addition, modeling was performed to compare the field data with the modeled data. Applying time-lapse BHG monitoring to a carbon sequestration site consists of determining temporal gravity anomalies related to the injection of CO2, and exclusively associated to the redistribution of the fluids in the pore space.

“This report describes the monitoring study conducted to assess the effectiveness of DAS (Distributed Acoustic Sensing) -based VSP (Vertical Seismic Profiling) technology for delineating CO2 injected into the Silurian-age pinnacle reefs in northern Michigan, the host rocks for the MRCSP Phase III demonstration project. The DAS VSP study was conducted in the Chester 16 reef, one of several reefs in Otsego County Michigan that is operated by Core Energy, LLC of Traverse City, Michigan.

Time-lapse DAS VSP was implemented at the Chester 16 reef to attempt to detect approximately 85,000 tonnes of CO2 injected into the A-1 Carbonate and Brown Niagaran Formations. A baseline survey was conducted in February 2017 prior to injecting CO2 and a repeat survey was conducted in August 2018. During the interim period between the baseline and repeat surveys, CO2 was injected into the Chester 16 reef via the 6-16 injection well without production (withdrawal) of fluids from the reef. A grid of 181 source positions consisting of 44 vibrator positions, plus 137 dynamite shot locations, was used to give approximately continuous spatial coverage of the injection zone (A-1 Carbonate and upper Brown Niagaran) in the area between the two wells.”

Pulsed neutron capture (PNC) logging has been used as part of the MRCSP monitoring of CO2 injection and storage during assessment of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in several Northern Niagara Pinnacle Reef Trend (NNPRT) reefs in Michigan. This technique and data processing cost less than traditional fluid sampling and presents a low risk to well operations by utilizing through-tubing logging capabilities. Additionally, monitoring CO2 migration and break-through can be conducted from a single monitoring well in the reservoir. A total of four reefs were selected for these studies to monitor CO2 migration and to test the viability and effectiveness of the PNC technology for saturation monitoring in a low porosity and highly diverse lithology environment. This study provides assessment of the technology and recommendations for utilization of saturation analysis.

This report describes the Dover 33 VSP study to test the effectiveness of time-lapse Vertical Seismic Profile (VSP) for detecting and delineating a plume of more than 271,000 tonnes of CO2 injected into the Brown Niagaran and A-1 Carbonate formations within the Dover 33 reef between March 2013 and September 2016. Five 2D walkaway VSP (WVSP) source lines were acquired by SIGMA3 in September 2016 to investigate the possible time-lapse response in both P-wave and PS-wave seismic data. The data was compared to the same survey geometry acquired in March 2013 by SR2020. The seismic energy was recorded into an 80-level, three-component geophone array deployed into the Dover 1-33 well and placed just above the reef. P-wave and PS-wave reflection images were produced for each of the three source lines from both the 2013 baseline and 2016 monitor surveys. The images were then compared to look for changes in the reflectivity at and around the injection location that might indicate how the CO2 has moved over this time period. This technique revealed several localized areas with sizable impedance differences inside the reef where CO2 would be expected; however, a large number of similar impedance “hotspots” were also detected outside the reef in areas where injected CO2 would not be expected. Therefore, a second analysis that involved calculating P-wave and S-wave travel time differences between the 2013 and 2016 VSPs was conducted to look for a change that could be caused by the CO2 plume.

A key activity of the MRCSP monitoring program was to continuously monitor the CO2 injection and bottomhole reservoir pressure in the injection wells and selected monitoring wells in the study reefs from 2013 through 2019. During the monitoring period, which varied from reef to reef, the reefs were undergoing one or more phases of development, such as CO2 injection without hydrocarbon production, CO2 injection with production Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), production without CO2 injection, and idle (no injection or production) in pressure depleted condition. A multi-year record of reservoir pressure and injection rate data are available for one or more wells for each reef for analysis. This report discusses the methodology and results of various types of analyses performed with this data, with the primary objective of characterizing the in-situ permeability of the formation of interest.

MRCSP monitoring efforts began in February 2013, with an overarching goal of monitoring at least 1 million metric tons (MT) of net CO2 stored at a CO2-EOR complex in northern Michigan. This report highlights the mass balance accounting of injection, production and recycling activities at ten CO2-EOR reefs. The reefs that were monitored for CO2-EOR operations include a late-stage depleted reef, eight active CO2-EOR reefs and two new reefs added to the CO2-EOR complex where a CO2 flood was initiated.

This report describes the effort under MRCP to evaluate the potential use of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) for monitoring the outcome of injected CO2 at the Dover 33 reef near Gaylord, Michigan. InSAR is a satellite-based technology that provides high-precision information on the movement of ground surface in areas with high radar coherence (e.g., roads, buildings, bare soils). Depending on the setting, this technique may provide a useful tool for characterizing reservoirs by measuring surface deformations from activities such as brine water disposal; production of water, oil, and/or gas; and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

A greenhouse gas emissions life cycle analysis (LCA) was completed for 22 years of carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) operations at the Niagaran reef complex in the northern Michigan Basin based on research by the MRCSP. The objective of the greenhouse gas LCA was to account for the total greenhouse gas emissions generated through the CO2-EOR process. Methane produced from the 300 to 500 meter-deep Antrim shale has CO2 content ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent. Therefore, the produced gas stream is gathered outside of Gaylord, Michigan, at the Chester 10 central gas processing plant, and run through an amine-based CO2 separation process to remove the CO2 so the methane can be sold to the market. The CO2 is periodically dehydrated, compressed, and transported via pipeline for CO2-EOR in nearby 5,000- to 6,500-foot (1500-2000 m) deep carbonate Niagaran reefs. The produced mixture of oil, water, and CO2 is separated at the Dover 36 oil processing facility. The processed CO2 is recycled to the reefs for CO2-EOR in a closed loop system. During this process, a portion of the CO2 remains permanently stored in the reefs.

This report summarizes the steps for successfully submitting a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This work used the lessons learned from various MRCSP tasks to demonstrate the geologic understanding of the reefs in Northern Niagaran Pinnacle Reef Trend (NNPRT), successful monitoring and accounting methodologies, understanding of potential risks and leakage pathways, and mass balance of CO2 baseline and net storage. The plan encompasses ten reefs and provides a reporting plan for future reef development

The report describes the geochemical monitoring program under MRCSP to use stable and radiogenic isotope geochemistry in concert with analysis of general geochemical parameters of fluids and gases and analysis of core samples to determine geochemical processes occurring in the reef structure because of CO2 injection. Specifically, brine and gas samples were collected and analyzed to determine changes occurring between reefs prior to and following CO2 injection. The analytical results for general geochemical parameters were modeled with chemical equilibrium models to determine if the injection of CO2 resulted in the mineral dissolution or precipitation. Finally, core samples were collected and analyzed to determine if there was evidence of dissolution features or mineral precipitation.

MRCSP has been investigating various reservoir characterization and modeling technologies related to Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) in conjunction with carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) operations in multiple Silurian-age (Niagaran), oil-bearing, carbonate pinnacle reefs in northern Michigan, USA. This report provides a comprehensive discussion of reservoir modeling studies that were conducted for tracking oil production, forecasting CO2 plume migration, and estimating associated storage in a number of reefs that were at different stages of their CO2-EOR life cycle. The modeling process for simulating oil production, CO2 injection, and associated storage in these reefs entails two phases. The first phase, geologic framework modeling, integrates all pertinent geological and geophysical data (from logs, cores and seismic surveys) about reservoir structure, geometry, rock types, and property distributions (porosity, permeability, water saturation) into a 3-D distributed grid-based static earth model (SEM). The second phase, dynamic reservoir modeling, uses the SEM as a platform to simulate the movement of oil, gas, water, and CO2 within the reservoir during primary hydrocarbon production, as well as during subsequent phases such as CO2-injection assisted EOR, plume migration, and associated storage. In addition, an assessment of coupled process effects is also carried out, where the impacts of geochemical and geo-mechanical processed induced by CO2 injection are studied.

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