On a mid-June afternoon in the dusty plains of southwest Wyoming, a team of oil drillers got the final thumbs-up to begin boring deep into the earth. By this week, they were more than 90 percent of the way to reaching their goal of drilling a test well 2.5 miles below the surface.
By Emanuele Bompan and Lucy Flood, SolveClimate News, Guest Writer for New West
But this is not any old well.
The crew from Baker Hughes, a Houston, Texas-based oil services company, is not even searching for oil, but for something far more elusive: a leak-proof place to permanently store carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants to curtail global warming pollution.
Pictured is crew working the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project’s test well on the Rock Springs Uplift. (Photo by Giada Connestari for SolveClimate News.)
The effort is part of the Wyoming Carbon Underground Storage Project, (WY-CUSP). Fourteen years in the making, the project is being closely watched to see if it can overcome the financial and technical challenges that have plagued other carbon capture and and sequestration (CCS) plans in the United States.
Up until last month, American Electric Power’s Mountaineer CCS plant in New Haven, W.Va., had grabbed the lion’s share of industry attention. It was the nation’s most advanced attempt at capturing CO2 from the 31-year-old coal plant’s exhaust gases and burying it in the deep-rock sandstone there. But on July 13, citing an uncertain U.S. climate policy and the continued economic downturn, AEP shelved the project.