Can Fracking and Carbon Sequestration Coexist?

Drilling for natural gas and storing CO2 deep underground may be headed for a collision

Natural gas production and carbon sequestration may be headed for an underground collision course.

That is the message from a new study finding that many of the same shale rock formations where companies want to extract gas also happen to sit above optimal sites envisioned for storing carbon dioxide underground that is captured from power plants and industrial facilities.

The problem with this overlap, the researchers found, is that shale-gas extraction involves fracturing rock that could be needed as an impenetrable cover to hold CO2 underground permanently and prevent it from leaking back into the atmosphere.

Shale gas production through hydraulic fracturing can compromise future use of the shale as a caprock formation in a CO2 storage operation,” said Michael Celia, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Princeton University and a co-author of the study.

“There is an obvious conflict between the two uses,” the study says.

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