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Technical Announcement:
USGS Receives International Endorsement for Geologic Carbon Sequestration Methodology

Released: 9/20/2013 4:39:44 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Peter Warwick 1-click interview
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The USGS methodology for assessing carbon dioxide (CO2) storage potential for geologic carbon sequestration was endorsed as a best practice for a country-wide storage potential assessment by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA report announcing the endorsement reflects the consensus reached at two workshops in 2011 and attended by the geological surveys of Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, together with the IEA.

"We are definitely honored by the recognition given to us by the IEA and the confidence the international science community has in our assessment methodology," said USGS scientist Sean Brennan, lead representative from the USGS at the workshops. "One of the things we all agreed upon at the workshops was that a consistent approach was very important so as to allow assessments to be compared across countries."

The USGS approach was praised for several primary reasons:

  • The assessment relies on a probabilistic methodology, which incorporates statistics to make resource estimates. The benefit of a probabilistic approach is that it allows for the resource to be assessed with any given level of uncertainty in the data collected.
  • The USGS based its assumptions on today’s available technology and standard industry practices. Using current techniques allows the assessment to have as close to a realistic result as possible.
  • The USGS approach is geologically based, as the rock layers included in the assessment were limited to those determined to have sufficient natural seals to prevent CO2 from escaping.

The USGS released its first national assessment of technically accessible geologic carbon dioxide storage potential in June of 2013. According to that assessment, the United States has the potential to store a mean of 3,000 metric gigatons of CO2 in geologic basins throughout the country. This national assessment complements the regional estimates that the Department of Energy includes in their periodically updated Atlas.

"The report represents the result of over 2 year of international collaboration between the involved geological survey organizations," said Wolf Heidug, Senior Energy Analyst for the IEA. "The support and expertise of USGS have been essential throughout this process. The recommendations made for best practices build on key features of the assessment methodology developed by USGS to allow for a transparent and robust assessment of geological storage resource throughout the world."

The IEA report recommended three approaches in total. The USGS approach was recommended for an initial, country-wide assessment of technically available storage resources. The approaches developed by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources and Geological Survey of the Netherlands were recommended for more site-specific approaches that took specific policies into account.

The IEA is an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. The IEA's four main areas of focus are: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness, and engagement worldwide.

To learn more about this or other geologic assessments, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website. Stay up to date with USGS energy science by subscribing to our newsletter or by following us on Twitter.

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