The Gulf of Mexico Partnership for Offshore Carbon Storage (GoMCarb) is a US DOE-funded partnership project to assess offshore storage of CO2 in the Gulf of Mexico region, with a concurrent partnership led by SECARB. The GoMCarb partnership is led by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, and brings together data and expertise in the region, integrating academic research institutions, government entities, and industry affiliates to address knowledge gaps, regulatory issues, infrastructure requirements, and geologic and engineering technical challenges.
It was the second annual meeting of both the GoMCarb and SECARB projects last week, but due to COVID-19, the physical meeting was replaced by Webex.
GoMCarb's main tasks are in storage resource assessment, risk assessment and modelling, monitoring developments and assessments, infrastructure and knowledge dissemination. Descriptions of these tasks in more detail can be seen on the project website.
This is the second year of the project, and it has made good progress across many areas. It has the benefit of building on some years of experience of acquiring geological data for potential storage areas in Texas offshore waters. At this annual meeting, of particular note was the work by LBNL in modelling CO2 release from CO2 well blowouts and pipeline leaks offshore. This is the first time this work has been done with these models offshore, where leakage behaviour is different to onshore and is impacted by the water column. Their initial results, based on chosen reference study sites, correlate with the work done for the North Sea by STEMM-CCS and others, including in that the CO2 dissolves more rapidly than methane leaks would do and is significantly attenuated by the water column, and unlikely to reach atmosphere except in shallow water depths.
Good work has been done on characterising potential reservoir formations, seals and identifying faults.
Also of particular note are emerging new approaches for monitoring. These include first-time use of Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) using fibre optics for offshore CO2 storage monitoring, with permanent seismic sensors, coupled with both active and ambient seismic sources. Also to note is the potential in this project for high-resolution seismic investigation of interesting geological features in the shallow overburden and abandoned wells with hydrocarbon seeps.
The GoMCarb project is achieving their outreach and education objectives with an emphasis on two main stakeholder groups: the public and technical stakeholders. For public stakeholders in the focus area, GoMCarb is raising awareness of potential subsea geologic CO2 storage in the region and providing information to reduce environmental concerns and increase responsible business development.
For technical aspects, GoMCarb is well-engaged with international technical audiences (including through IEAGHG activities) to bring international developments and techniques to application in the Gulf of Mexico, and with regulatory personnel, and source industries to share knowledge and resources.
Overall, the project brings together the leading expertise in the USA, learning from international developments and experiences, and is preparing good foundations for future CO2 storage projects offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. IEAGHG is involved by chairing the international Advisory Committee which also met remotely to provide feedback.