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Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage

Providing area-specific subsurface expertise for your CO₂ sequestration projects.

As world leaders in reservoir- to basin-scale evaluation, Canadian Discovery Ltd. (CDL) specializes in assessing subsurface properties, pressure, fluid flow, fluid chemistry and geomechanics. Using our extensive subsurface knowledge and GIS capabilities, CDL has established workflows to evaluate carbon sequestration targets and answer the key questions: Is there a storage opportunity? Is the storage capacity of the CCUS opportunity large enough to sequester the CO2 in the given time frame? Is the storage opportunity suitable? (i.e. Does it meet certain critical screen criteria? Can the site be effectively monitored? Is groundwater safe?). CDL has used these workflows in northeastern BC, central and southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and in the southern US onshore Gulf Coast Basin.

Carbon Storage Introduction

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) are important tools to help Canada and the rest of the world meet net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as set out by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Western Canada is well placed to play a leading role in storing CO₂ as it has an abundance of pore space suitable for both sequestration and EOR projects. CO₂ can be stored underground in saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas pools (figure, left) as a supercritical fluid (density of a liquid, but viscosity of a gas) provided specific temperature and pressure conditions are met. The main advantage of storing CO₂ in a supercritical condition is that the required storage volume is substantially less than if the CO₂ were at “standard” (surface) conditions (figure, right).

  • CO2 storage in saline aquifers (Type 1) has the highest capacity potential for long-term sequestration
  • Storage in depleted oil and gas pools (Type 2) is suitable to sequester CO2 for geological (long) time frames
  • In enhanced oil recovery (EOR) schemes (Type 3), CO2 is injected into a depleted oil reservoir. The CO2 dissolves in the previously unrecoverable oil, reducing the oil’s viscosity, which allows it to flow to a production well. EOR schemes maximize oil recovery while eventually sequestering CO2, which minimizes environmental impacts.

There are a number of criteria that are either critical, essential or desirable to ensure that a depleted pool or saline aquifer is suitable to safely and economically store CO₂ in the subsurface. These include:

  • Reservoir-seal pairs (i.e. the reservoir is effectively sealed from leakage)
  • Being in a suitable pressure regime
  • The ability to monitor CO₂ injection and flow
  • Protecting groundwater quality.

The table (right) summarizes screening criteria for subsurface CO₂ storage.

Criterion Level Preferable Criterion
Critical Reservoir-seal pairs that provide extensive and competent barrier to vertical flow
  Pressure gradients <12 kPa/m
Essential Low to moderate seismicity
  Limited to moderate faulting and fracturing intensity
  Intermediate to regional scale hydrogeological flow
Desirable Depth > 800m
  Temperature ≥ 35°C
  Pressure ≥ 7.5 Mpa
  Thickness ≥ 20m
  Porosity ≥ 10%
  Permeability ≥ 20 mD
  Caprock thickness ≥ 10m
  Low to moderate well density
Data from IEAGHG, 2009, Table 2

CDL's CCUS Workflows

CDL’s CCUS workflows (figure, left) combine geological and hydrodynamics evaluations at the regional scale (figure, middle), and when data are available, at the reservoir and local level (figure, right), and focus on minimizing CCUS risk:

  • Categorizing the subsurface
  • Identifying saline aquifers and depleted pools
  • Identifying reservoirs and seals
  • Protecting groundwater

Regional Reservoirs, Seals

Local Reservoir Characterization

  • Ensures target zones meet critical parameters including reservoir-seal pairs, porosity and permeability requirements
  • Provides rock volume data (area and thickness) and porosity and permeability data to determine the pore volume available for CO₂ storage capacity calculations
  • Structure, isopach (thickness), net to gross ratio, porosity and facies mapping

TVD Structure Map

Phi-h Map

Estimated Pore Volume Map

Basal Cambrian Sandstone (BCS) maps created by CDL using publicly available data from Shell Quest applications
  • Ensures target zones meet regional scale flow and containment requirements
  • Provides CO₂ density estimates for storage capacity calculations, estimate of density difference between aquifer and CO₂, and confirmation of permeability estimates through analysis of DSTs
  • Pressure gradient, absolute pressure, temperature gradient, temperature and salinity mapping
  • Pressure vs Elevation plots

Estimated Pressure Map

Estimated Temperature Map

Estimated CO₂ Density Map

Basal Cambrian Sandstone (BCS) maps created by CDL using publicly available data from Shell Quest applications

Regional Pressure vs Elevation Plot

Regional Pressure vs Elevation Plot

Local Pressure vs Elevation Plot

  • Theoretical CO₂ storage capacity: the mass of CO₂ that can be stored in the hydrocarbon reservoir assuming that the volume occupied previously by the produced fluids will be occupied in its entirety by the injected CO₂
  • Effective CO₂  storage capacity: the mass of CO₂ that can be stored in hydrocarbon reservoirs after taking into account reservoir characteristics and flow processes, such as heterogeneity (Ch), aquifer support (Cw), gravity override (Cb), and CO₂ mobility (Cm)
  • Hydrocarbon reservoirs considered for CO₂ storage are often near the end of productive life so the theoretical storage capacity is relatively well understood
  • Current pressure needs to be well understood to properly estimate storage capacity
  • Wellbore liability (density and vintage) needs to be considered
Storage Calculation Methodology from Bachu (2006)
  • Limited data make saline aquifer storage capacity more difficult to evaluate
  • Storage efficiency factor (AKA Esaline) Es accounts for the presence of both water and CO₂, and is a function of reservoir properties and fluid dynamics:
  • Geometry (structural vs dynamic traps)
  • Heterogeneity
  • Gravity segregation
  • Permeability distribution
  • Pressure limitations
  • Initial estimates of storage coefficients (Es) are based on data distribution and quality, expected continuity of reservoir from analogues, and the scale of the storage estimate (local or regional)
  • Es values change with scale: increased potential for these factors to negatively impact storage with increasing areal extent and heterogeneity (i. e. small Es < 10% regional evaluations, larger Es 10-30% local evaluations)
Storage Calculation Methodology from DOE-NETL (2015)


Alberta CO₂ Emitters Map

  • CDL is developing a fully integrated subsurface study to help clients characterize the suitability of selected Lower Paleozoic deep saline aquifers for carbon storage in Alberta
  • The study will be delivered via an interactive, web-based Spotfire platform
  • Deliverables will include a stratigraphic framework, reservoir parameters, aquifer volumetric estimates and CO₂ storage capacity estimates
  • Initial delivery of Cambrian units (the deepest/oldest Lower Paleozoic unit) is scheduled for mid-April 2022 to coincide with the formulation of individual Full Project Proposals as requested by the Government of Alberta
  • Additional stratigraphic intervals will be evaluated and delivered as completed

CCS Evaluation Permit Target Zones & CO2 Emitters

  • CDL is developing a regional-scale assessment of the carbon storage potential of viable saline aquifers in Alberta.
  • The Atlas will be a trusted resource for a consistent, province-wide analysis and framework from an unbiased and trusted source, cataloguing opportunities and risks for carbon storage targets.
  • The Atlas will deliver in two Phases — Phase 1 will comprise Permian and older aquifers; Phase 2 will comprise Triassic and younger aquifers.
  • The Basal Cambrian Sandstone chapter (the first of eight from Phase 1) is complete and available to purchase.
  • The Atlas will be of value to CO2 emitters and CO2 storage project developers, public regulators, governments, NGOs, and the investment community.
  • Geological and hydrogeological assessment of Paleozoic saline aquifers east of Calgary in support of submissions and applications to develop and operate a CCUS hub
  • Four zones were identified as having sufficient rock characteristics at depths below 1,000m to meet the criteria to sequester CO₂
  • The hydrodynamics systems were analyzed regionally, and locally where sufficient data were present, to classify hydrodynamic systems using pressure, total dissolved solids and salinity to understand aquifer isolation and water chemistry. These separate systems assist in mapping future containment of the sequestered CO₂

CDL Workflow


Regional Pressure vs Elevation Plot

Regional Pressure vs Elevation Plot

Local Pressure vs Elevation Plot

Geological and Petrophysical Data Integration

Carbon Hub Prospective Areas

  • Nisku Formation
  • Upper and lower porous zones
  • Very good reservoir
  • Two main fairways
  • Production near Wayne
  • Leduc Formation
  • Upper and lower porous zone
  • Excellent reservoir
  • Production to the north
  • BHL Dolomite (Waterways Formation)
  • Good reservoir
  • Upper porous zone more continuous
  • Basal Cambrian Sands
  • Good reservoir
  • Saline aquifer
  • Sparse well control
  • Quest CO₂ target

Project Area

  • Analyzed oil pools in central Alberta to assess CO₂ miscible flood enhanced oil recovery (EOR) opportunities for a major pipeline company
  • Developed a detailed database that allows screening and ranking based on various criteria including:
  • Theoretical and effective CO₂ storage capacity
  • Remaining recoverable reserves, calculated recovery factor
  • Predicted EOR oil recovery
  • Production and injection data
  • Pressure data including minimum miscibility pressure
  • Porosity and permeability from core data (for reservoir parameters)

Detailed Ranking Criteria

  • Ranking group established to determine whether the pool falls within optimal conditions, near condition boundaries, or outside condition boundaries
  • These conditions include:
  • Oil gravity of 27–42° API
  • In-situ viscosity of 0.4–6 cP
  • Temperature of 31–127°C
  • Current Pressure > Minimum Miscibility Pressure (MMP)
  • Active injection in the pool

Stacked Aquifer Estimated Storage Potential

The Northeast BC Geological Carbon Capture and Storage Atlas has been released to the public and can be downloaded from the Geoscience BC website.

  • A valuable tool for industry, government, and research institutions looking to understand and utilize the carbon storage potential in Northeast British Columbia
  • Provides information on the geology and reservoir characteristics of saline aquifers and depleted pools, and assesses their feasibility for captured carbon dioxide storage
  • Estimated geological storage potential and recommended areas of focus
  • A comprehensive resource for those industries looking to sequester CO2 emissions in order to meet British Columbia’s Climate Change Accountability Act

CDL invites you to explore these assessments on and contact us to learn how we can provide similar cost-effective and sustainable solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of your industry, while adhering to the highest standards of safety, environmental protection, and regulatory compliance.

CDL investigated available public data across NE BC using protocols and techniques based on 35+ years of geological, hydrogeological and engineering expertise to provide an inventory of favourable geological formations and locations for carbon sequestration in the Northeast BC Geological Carbon Capture and Storage Atlas. Our assessment of 12 geological formations found that 4,230 Mt of carbon dioxide could potentially be stored in formations across NE BC, and can provide industry the knowledge to help reduce carbon footprints and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Highlights include:

  • Local and regional estimated storage potential in depleted pools and saline aquifers of NE BC
  • Stacked storage potential
  • Formation storage potential
  • Recommended areas of focus
  • Database of reservoir metrics and storage potential calculations
  • Developed a British Columbia Carbon Storage Atlas in partnership with TGS for an integrated multi-national energy company
  • Ranked storage potential and risks for saline aquifers in all areas of the province, including offshore basins
  • Ranked the storage potential of oil and gas pools (and saline aquifers) in NEBC where there has been significantly oil and gas development
  • CDL focused on sourcing reservoir parameters for the pools and saline aquifers in NEBC, and calculating CO₂ storage potential for all the saline aquifers
  • CDL provided databases that allowed saline aquifers and depleted pools to be screened and ranked on many parameters including:
  • Effective CO₂ storage capacity
  • Percentage of hydrocarbons remaining to be produced (pools)
  • CO₂ phase, reservoir pressure, reservoir temperature
  • Rock properties such as porosity and permeability
  • Depth to the reservoir
  • Well density

Project Area

Example of Pool Storage Capacity Map

Project Confidential

  • Carbon AXIOM is an online tool to screen and assess depleted oil and gas pools for suitability to sequester CO₂ and as EOR candidates across southeastern Texas, southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi
  • CDL designed a database that integrates proprietary and public datasets comprising formation tops, production forecasts, temperature models, pressure profiles, and reservoir and fluid characteristics. These standardized attributes provide a basis to compare and rank CO₂ storage opportunities over large areas based on estimates of CO₂ storage capacity, uncertainties and risk elements

Project Area

Inputs for Storage Capacity Estimation

Modified from TGS
  • Hydrocarbon pools were generated in a GIS by combining wells within a field producing from the same geologic formations; pools were aggregated to storage units by combining laterally contiguous pore spaces within equivalent reservoir units. About 7,000 potential storage units over 87,000 square miles were assessed.
  • Users can visualize and filter the opportunities using TGS' user-friendly Carbon AXIOM web application, and emitters can identify potential storage sites near their facilities.

Online Screening Tool

Clean Technology

Contact us for more information, or to learn more about CDL's other Clean Technology initiatives including Critical Mineral and Deep Geothermal assessments.