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First well drilled at field research station

Jessica Dongas, M.Sc. student at the University of Calgary, at site of the field research station.

Jessica Dongas, M.Sc. student at the University of Calgary, at site of the field research station.

Drilling has been completed on the first well at CMC’s Field Research Station.

Don Lawton, Director of the Field Research Station (FRS), says the well was drilled to 550 m with no major complications or delays. The FRS, located 20 km southwest of Brooks, AB, offers technology developers, researchers and end users the capacity to develop and test measurement, monitoring and verification technologies for the containment of liquids in the subsurface, including carbon.

First exploratory effort at site

“It was really exciting to finally see the rig because we’ve been working on this for five years,” he said, adding, “It was the first major effort at the site in terms of exploring the sub-surface, apart from what we did with our baseline seismic survey last year.”

Core samples and logging data taken from the wellbore are now being analyzed and will be submitted as part of CMC’s application to the Alberta Energy Regulator for a permit to inject small amounts of CO2 at the site (1,000 tonnes per year). Once the permit has been issued, work at the site will continue with the drilling of a second 300 m deep injection well and up to four observation wells.

Unique shallow injection zone

The FRS is the only site worldwide where CO2 will be injected at shallow to intermediate depths of 300 and 500 m, says Lawton. There are studies where CO2 has been injected to about 30 m to see how the gas behaves in the soil near the surface. And at other locations research is being conducted where CO2 is being injected to depths of 2 km or more.

“But no one really knows what happens to these fluids at intermediate depths and that’s really been the whole driver of this project. What is the detection threshold of CO2 for a whole range of monitoring systems that we’ll be installing here?” he says. “So it’s really unique and I can’t wait to see what it tells us.”

$4.9 M investment by federal government

This is the second piece of good news for the research station in recent weeks. On Feb. 12, Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced a $4.92 M investment in the field research station. The funds will be used to purchase advanced equipment, assist with well and infrastructure construction, and to acquire a specialized mobile geochemistry laboratory for water and gas sampling at field sites.