Abstract

We are about to face a surge in the need for geophysical characterization and monitoring of subsurface reservoirs and aquifers for CO2 sequestration projects. Global energy demand is rising significantly, expected to double over the next 20–30 years, driven by world population increase and the rapid growth of emerging economies. At the current rate of development of alternate energy sources, it is possible that the world may have to rely even more heavily on carbon-based fuels than at present to meet the impending energy demand (Figure 1). With global oil production near its peak or perhaps already in decline, this will place an increased emphasis on coal and LNG (liquid natural gas) in the carbon-based energy mix, and on unconventional hydrocarbon resources like tight gas, coal-bed methane, and heavy-oil tar sands. All of these carbon-based energy sources, especially coal-fired power plants, LNG, and tar-sand operations, will create a growing supply of excess CO2. Irrespective of whether man-made CO2 emissions are a significant cause of global climate change, or simply well-correlated with global temperature rise, there will be increasing pressure from world governments to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, via policy change (e.g., Kyoto, Copenhagen) or via financial measures (e.g., carbon tax, cap and trade). Capturing industrial CO2 at its various sources and injecting it into deep geologic formations for long-term storage (sequestration) appears to be one of the most promising methods to achieve significant reductions in atmospheric CO2 emissions.

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