Potential restrictions for CO 2 sequestration sites due to shale and tight gas production

T. R. Elliot, Michael Anthony Celia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Carbon capture and geological sequestration is the only available technology that both allows continued use of fossil fuels in the power sector and reduces significantly the associated CO 2 emissions. Geological sequestration requires a deep permeable geological formation into which captured CO 2can be injected, and an overlying impermeable formation, called a caprock, that keeps the buoyant CO 2 within the injection formation. Shale formations typically have very low permeability and are considered to be good caprock formations. Production of natural gas from shale and other tight formations involves fracturing the shale with the explicit objective to greatly increase the permeability of the shale. As such, shale gas production is in direct conflict with the use of shale formations as a caprock barrier to CO 2 migration. We have examined the locations in the United States where deep saline aquifers, suitable for CO 2 sequestration, exist, as well as the locations of gas production from shale and other tight formations. While estimated sequestration capacity for CO 2 sequestration in deep saline aquifers is large, up to 80% of that capacity has areal overlap with potential shale-gas production regions and, therefore, could be adversely affected by shale and tight gas production. Analysis of stationary sources of CO 2 shows a similar effect: about two-thirds of the total emissions from these sources are located within 20 miles of a deep saline aquifer, but shale and tight gas production could affect up to 85% of these sources. These analyses indicate that colocation of deep saline aquifers with shale and tight gas production could significantly affect the sequestration capacity for CCS operations. This suggests that a more comprehensive management strategy for subsurface resource utilization should be developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4223-4227
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 3 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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