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An Emerging Field for Petroleum Geologists

The maturing carbon market is a major driver for deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects. Both the subsurface technical knowledge and related data sets of the petroleum industry are major inputs required for the world to successfully move towards a carbon-neutral and sustainable energy future. CCUS has experienced growing interest over the past two decades, due to the desire to reduce CO2 emissions and to make industrial sources more environmentally sustainable. More recently, policy instruments such as the expanded Section 45Q federal tax credits - up to $35 per tonne for EOR and $50 for geologic storage - and carbon credit mechanisms such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) are providing opportunities that offset deployment costs and can result in CCUS being a potentially profitable enterprise.

Plan now to attend AAPG's Carbon, Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) Conference 23–25 March 2021. Themed "An Emerging Field for Petroleum Geologists," the online conference will highlight current CCUS work and address related challenges, including:

  • Subsurface Geologic Storage
  • Storage Associated with CO2 EOR
  • Reservoir Monitoring and Risk Assessment
  • Case Studies
  • Industry Applications
  • Economics, Incentives, and Policy

Speakers will represent research institutions, universities, and industry. The work presented at the conference will demonstrate the ongoing need for skilled petroleum geologists and engineers to help define the future of carbon management.

Where do petroleum geologists come into play?

The technology and methodologies developed by the oil and gas industry are directly applicable in characterizing storage formations, caprocks, reservoir model development, monitoring, well design, and ensuring the safe construction of injection sites. Petroleum geologists are uniquely suited to evaluate candidate storage formations and EOR fields for CCUS programs.

How does this benefit the petroleum industry?

Given the world’s reliance on fossil-fuels for the next several decades, CCUS offers a path to sustainable development within the petroleum industry and a means to meet increasingly stiff emission regulations. The near-term use of CO2 for EOR also helps maximize production from currently stranded oil reserves, thus reducing the environmental footprint relative to field development. Finally, the petroleum industry is uniquely qualified to deploy large-scale geological storage commercially, while creating an additional revenue stream. Therefore, CCUS offers the potential for new career pathways for early- to late-career professions, including geologists and engineers.