Gulf Coast ready to develop carbon storage hub

University of Texas at Austin

Research News

IMAGE: The energy infrastructure along the Gulf Coast offers opportunities to capture and transport CO2 for storage. view more  Credit: Carol M. Highsmith/ Library of Congress.

The stage is set for a new carbon storage economy to emerge along the Gulf Coast, according to a study led by The University of Texas at Austin, with the region offering ample opportunities to capture and store carbon, and recent state and federal incentives giving an added push to get started.

Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, is a technology that keeps CO2 out of the atmosphere by capturing emissions and storing them deep underground. It can help fight climate change by lowering industrial emissions now while renewable energy sources are being developed, said Tip Meckel, a senior research scientist at the Gulf Coast Carbon Center, a research group at the UT Bureau of Economic Geology that has been studying CCS for the past 20 years.

“This is a viable way to reduce emissions in the near term,” Meckel said. “It’s feasible and has a reasonable economic structure that can support, retain and create jobs.”

The study, which was published in Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology, provides a high-level overview of policy incentives for CCS and how Texas and Louisiana’s high concentration of industry and unique offshore geology make the region a particularly good spot to build up a carbon storage economy.

The topics explored in the paper are especially relevant considering recent moves that Texas has made to bring carbon storage under a similar regulatory framework as oil and gas. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law HB 1284, granting the Texas Railroad Commission the same regulatory authority over CO2 injection wells as it has over oil and gas wells. In May, the Texas General Land Office announced that it was accepting lease proposals for CO2 storage sites in state land offshore of Jefferson County. Any royalties or revenues related to storage will benefit the Texas Permanent School Fund, as oil and gas activity does.

In the past, oil and gas companies primarily used carbon storage and capture for enhanced oil recovery, which allows companies to get more oil out of depleted reservoirs by pumping in CO2. Enhanced oil recovery has been in use for decades and has produced an existing network of pipelines for transporting CO2 along the Gulf Coast. In addition, the two existing carbon capture facilities in Texas were built with these measures in mind.

However, the study shows that falling oil and gas prices and an increasing 45Q federal tax credit, which offsets tax liability for industries to different degrees depending on how the CO2 is stored, is making carbon storage for its own sake more attractive.

“Before, we only had one way: enhanced oil recovery” said former Assistant Secretary of Energy Charles McConnell, who is now the executive director of carbon management at the University of Houston and was not part of the study. “We are in a different place now. Storage in and of itself can be viable now.”

The paper describes how the existing CO2 infrastructure could be leveraged and expanded to boost carbon storage outside of enhanced oil recovery — with the researchers highlighting the subsurface geology offshore of the Gulf Coast as a suitable spot for permanently storing CO2.

The researchers also note that in Texas, state-owned lands extend to 10.35 miles offshore instead of the usual 3.45 miles due to a law that went into effect when Texas was a sovereign nation. The historical act ends up simplifying issues of ownership and permitting today.

While geology and infrastructure of the Gulf Coast is a winning combination for boosting a carbon storage economy, the study said that another important fact is simply the amount of CO2 produced in the region. Texas has the highest level of emissions of any state. Louisiana is second.

Capture and storage offers a way to stop a portion of those emissions right at the source, Meckel said. By doing that, the technology can help flatten CO2 emissions as lower-carbon energy alternatives mature in the market.

“Advancing carbon capture and storage is something that we can do now,” Meckel said. “To take a big bite out of [the carbon] profile, you have to get going now.”


The Department of Energy funded the research. The paper’s co-authors are all part of the Gulf Coast Carbon Center. They are research scientist associate Alex Bump, principal investigator Susan Hovorka, and program manager Ramón H. Treviño.

The Bureau of Economic Geology is a research unit of the UT Jackson School of Geosciences.

From EurekAlert!

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Marty Cornell
July 6, 2021 6:26 pm

The question is, why? CCS denies the beneficial fertilization of the biosphere and a slight warming in mid-latitudes.

Reply to  Marty Cornell
July 6, 2021 6:55 pm

It’s “broken window” economics.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Marty Cornell
July 6, 2021 8:04 pm

The political reality is that the Sheeple demand at the ballot box that CO2 (plant food), which may increase temperature by 1C in 75-100 years, must be restricted. Science has nothing to do with it. One way to look at it is, 200 years from now the planet will almost certainly be starving for CO2 to feed a doubling of the population. There’s the doubling that matters, not whether CO2 causes one of two or somewhere inbetween degrees of warming. The CO2 we store for future generations will be very beneficial.

Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
July 7, 2021 5:48 am

For years now, I’ve always responded to people who say that they “listen to the science” when conversation inevitably m turns to ‘climate change’ with something along the line of “oh, no – in this case at least, science has absolutely nothing to do with it!”

As for your comments on CSS, makes you wonder – reducing atmospheric Co2 reduces plant life, and famine ultimately follows. Hmmm…. That’s followed by a future global Co2 hostage taxation scheme in order to return it to ‘pre-idiocracy levels’.
They tax the global economies to control/reduce it, then double-dip taxation-wise in order to restore it.

Seems plausible – at the rate things have been going, at least.

Dave Yaussy
Reply to  Marty Cornell
July 7, 2021 5:15 am

We can all agree that CCS is unnecessary and maybe even counterproductive. But for the next few years the greens are in ascendance and will be forcing some types of CO2 controls. Far better to do it through CCS, which allows critical fossil fuel infrastructure to continue to operate, and which can be abandoned when people come to their senses. Suppressing CO2 by development of intermittents and battery storage puts us way behind the curve when this insanity plays out.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Dave Yaussy
July 8, 2021 6:23 pm

It’s a trap!

Thomas Waeghe
Reply to  Marty Cornell
July 7, 2021 5:28 am

Also, why should we capture CO2 and all the other emitting countries aren’t concerned with a beneficial gas?

Reply to  Marty Cornell
July 7, 2021 7:08 am

Because follow the money. Notice this line, and the absence of any rationale based on safety: “Any royalties or revenues related to storage will benefit the Texas Permanent School Fund, as oil and gas activity does.”

Chris Hanley
July 6, 2021 6:45 pm

“… Capture and storage offers a way to stop a portion of those emissions right at the source, Meckel said. By doing that, the technology can help flatten CO2 emissions as lower-carbon energy alternatives mature in the market …”.
What lower-carbon alternatives and mature how?
In California and Germany wind and solar seem to have already exceeded a viable limit in terms of market share.
Nuclear aside and barring technology breakthroughs, there is little more technological advancement possible for wind and solar generation together with battery technology that have almost reached their physical boundaries of efficiency.
Besides as Marty says there is no overabundance of CO2 in the atmosphere, quite the opposite.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Chris Hanley
July 6, 2021 10:12 pm

Here we go again; another curve to be flattened.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
July 7, 2021 7:55 am

“Before, we only had one way: enhanced oil recovery” […]“Storage in and of itself can be viable now.”

What I missed in McConnell’s explanation is HOW “storage in and of itself” can be viable. Without enhanced oil recovery where is the economics? Are we back to “social cost of carbon” fantasies?

Bruce Cobb
July 6, 2021 6:54 pm

The Carbon Scam: The New Texas Tea? If only CCS had any value to society whatsoever, instead of actually being a negative.

CD in Wisconsin
July 6, 2021 6:55 pm

Another “solution” in search of a problem. Sigh.

bill Johnston
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
July 6, 2021 7:32 pm

Follow the money. With government throwing money at it, you know some people will make a pile.

Dave Fair
Reply to  bill Johnston
July 7, 2021 10:04 am

Been there, done that, got the government money. The climate scare is the perfect vehicle for enrichment of NGOs, government bureaucrats and politicians and a huge array of crony capitalists. Stampede the populace at their overall detriment, huge profits for the few.

July 6, 2021 7:16 pm

Wow, Charles, EurekAlert! is just a treasure trove of nonsense stuff these days. No nees to search!

July 6, 2021 7:38 pm

I’ll take “What is Rent Seeking for $200”, Alex.

July 6, 2021 7:38 pm

Store carbon? And do what with it? Considering the volume it would be worse than nuclear waste …. by far, and more dispersed.

Reply to  markl
July 7, 2021 3:53 am

Don’t forget, it will be stored as a supercritical fluid, and therefore much less volume.

Reply to  Disputin
July 7, 2021 12:41 pm

Supercritical carbon dioxide is a fluid state of carbon dioxide that is held above its critical temperature (Tc=31.1 °C) and critical pressure (Pc=73.8 bar). Key word here, ‘held’.

Of course, where you get the energy to do that is another question entirely. It can’t be renewable energy because renewable is intermittent.

July 6, 2021 7:50 pm

Texas will kick @$$ in CCS/CCUS… “I guarantee it” (H/T George Zimmer)…😎

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2021 8:52 pm

And the crony capitalism will work as planned.

Tax credits received and carbon credits to sell, all the while using CO2 to improve oil output of old low producing fields.

That is why Republicans are teaming up to support the GREEN BS.

Reply to  Drake
July 6, 2021 9:15 pm

Bingo, Brake. At least w.r.t. Repub eco’s. We are 180 out on the “Green BS”, but as one with the cynical attempts at CCS corporate welfare.

It’s a truly bipartisan government taking. The “compromise” is that Dem’s get credit for some carbon capture, and Repubs get the borrow and spend taking from the unpaid for carbon capture $.

$ that would be much better spent from letting the marketplace work.

  • Decide how much carbon we can economically emit.
  • Tax carbon such that those emissions from source reduction and CCS will meet that goal.
  • Rebate the returns from that tax to every US resident, equitably, regularly, fully, after paying off the CCS projects.

Yes, we probably disagree fundamentally on AGW economic impacts. But probably not on how to treat them…

Dave Fair
Reply to  bigoilbob
July 7, 2021 10:15 am

Bob, your ignorance of economics is breathtaking. Your hatred of the oil business in particular and corporations in general is manifest. Your trust in “common man democracy” is misplaced; such democracy has led to butchery on global scales.

Reply to  Dave Fair
July 7, 2021 11:22 am

Bob, your ignorance of economics is breathtaking.”

Folks ,the usual vaguity at work. Could it be that he has no economically valid way to expand on his fact free remark?

“Your hatred of the oil business in particular and corporations in general is manifest.”

Oil biz “Ben bery, bery, gud tu mi”. An oilfield trasher from my teens. A petroleum engineer for my adult life. I LOVE the biz, the life, the work. I HATE it’s universally unethical behavior.

“Your trust in “common man democracy” is misplaced; such democracy has led to butchery on global scales.”

Your true colors unfurl. Rather than a democracy, you favor the self described meritocrats – who are actually just perpetuating via our rigged system. Which is why you vague on specifics here as well….

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  bigoilbob
July 8, 2021 6:30 pm

Folks ,the usual vaguity at work. Could it be that he has no economically valid way to expand on his fact free remark?

Which is different than your handwaving about setting the cost of carbon? Oh, I know, we can go with arbitrary numbers issued from your green buddies through their mouthpieces at EPA (violating OMB guidance on discount rates, natch). And of course they would be rebated “equitably” which you also didn’t bother to define.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  Drake
July 7, 2021 7:42 am

It also will apparently involve the conversion of a federal payment for carbon capture into a royalty payment to the state of TX. So the Dems get to pretend they are saving the plane, the TX Republicans get cash for state spending, and a crony capitalism subsidy for the oil companies. A win-win-win. What’s not to love?

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
July 7, 2021 11:26 am

AGAIN, whether you think that AGW is real and real bad, or not, this is corporate welfare. With just enough money movement for the Repubs to try their usual deflection that some forms of give aways are welfare, but those that benefit them are rewards for their self described hard work.

July 6, 2021 8:10 pm

Almost as ridiculous as the con job Fortescue Metals new Green Iron Ore:
If productivity=prosperity my kids are in for a rough ride!

George W Childs
July 6, 2021 8:12 pm

Leave the carbon dioxide alone! It’s plant food.

John in Oz
July 6, 2021 8:16 pm

Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology

Perhaps these people could also publish in their journal proof positive that CO2 is the temperature control knob of the Earth before advocating for the monies available due to c(agw)atastrophism.

Their proof would need to explain ALL temperature vs CO2 instances, both current and historical. Good luck with that.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John in Oz
July 7, 2021 5:04 am

Excellent idea!

Perhaps they could review Dr. Happer’s latest paper. That would seem to be right up the alley for an organization titled: Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology

Mike Dubrasich
July 6, 2021 8:24 pm

Has anyone done the math? If the Hub was built and operating at full capacity, what minuscule part of the globe’s atmospheric carbon could they “capture”? Would it amount to even one ChiCom coal plant?

And did they say they would “flatten the curve”? Where have we heard that before?

Forrest Gardener
July 6, 2021 9:01 pm

Carbon capture and storage – how about planting some trees?

Reply to  Forrest Gardener
July 6, 2021 9:21 pm

Well, we have~3T so far. And ~9B folks. So, given survival rates, every folk on earth would have to find a place to plant and nurture for years, dozens of trees, for even a 10% increase in their number.

But w.r.t. the actual impacts, both outcomes are so minor that you might have a good point.

Sorry folks. Source reduction is the ONLY path to progress….

Reply to  bigoilbob
July 7, 2021 3:39 am

More gibberish from bigboob. Good job, buddy.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  bigoilbob
July 7, 2021 5:05 am

Source reduction is the path to economic ruin.

Intelligent Dasein
Reply to  bigoilbob
July 7, 2021 6:29 am

There is nowhere close to 9 billion “folks,” and what is with the strange vocabulary, anyway?

Dave Fair
Reply to  bigoilbob
July 7, 2021 10:28 am

Bob always assumes ‘facts’ not in evidence. Whatever intelligence he has is lost in the invalid assumptions he grasps.

Peter K
July 6, 2021 9:35 pm

I cannot believe intelligent people would fall for this snack oil.

Peter K
Reply to  Peter K
July 6, 2021 9:52 pm

Oops “snake oil”

Dave Fair
Reply to  Peter K
July 7, 2021 10:29 am

P.T. Barnum said it all.

Intelligent Dasein
July 6, 2021 10:41 pm

Burying carbon dioxide is a crime against life.

July 7, 2021 12:00 am

“Gulf Coast ready to develop carbon storage hub” like that will help with anything.
More money spent on a completely useless anti-science, anti-nature project to try and give the illusion that CO2 controls the climate (or even the weather).
An expensive and stupidly foolish idea!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  tom0mason
July 7, 2021 5:06 am

“An expensive and stupidly foolish idea!”


Coach Springer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 7, 2021 7:10 am

“An expensive and stupidly foolish idea” sounds like a feature for them.

July 7, 2021 2:07 am

The Egyptians built Pyramids. We build CCS storage. What the hell, it’s jobs, isn’t it?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  pochas94
July 7, 2021 5:07 am

It’s the principle of the thing: There is no evidence that CO2 needs to be removed from the atmosphere.

Dave Fair
Reply to  pochas94
July 7, 2021 10:31 am

Filling in (cold induced) potholes with spoons will also create jobs.

Old Goat
July 7, 2021 2:27 am

Does one capture and store carbon, to build up a reservoir of coal for future use?

Reply to  Old Goat
July 7, 2021 12:50 pm

The chemical structure of coal is C135H96O9NS
The chemical structure of CO2 is…. well, that’s self explanatory.

July 7, 2021 3:31 am

How about this for CO2 capture: plant trees!

Come to my house in October… I rake about a 55 gal barrel of oak acorns. So do each of my neighbors all down the street. Load them into a C130 and air drop them in some remote place which needs trees. Only my local squirrels will miss the acorns. Thinks about all the tons of C02 captured in a single oak tree.

July 7, 2021 3:37 am

“carbon storage” So, they are going to build more concrete roads and bridges? That is the only viable CO2 storage system there is. Good, need more roads and bridges!

Reply to  2hotel9
July 7, 2021 9:27 am

I like your thinking. But, calcining carbonates to make cement releases CO2.

Reply to  pochas94
July 7, 2021 3:45 pm

Excellent! More CO2 means more plants, more oxygen, more food and more leftard tears, my favorite vehicle washing mixture.

July 7, 2021 4:34 am

Yeah, like storing carbon is going to end well.
Dummies never ask, “Then what?”

David Dibbell
July 7, 2021 4:37 am

CCS: Another economic bubble to eventually collapse when more folks figure out on their own that CO2 never did have the ability to drive the climate one way or the other. What is the “climate” value of CCS? It will go to zero, even if temporarily it has been assigned a fictitious value and we are all paying the penalty one way or another. Using captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery makes good sense. Shoving it into the ground to feed the illusion of control over global temperature is nuts.

July 7, 2021 4:51 am

I guess the idea of this selfless and far sighted project is to allow China, India etc to carry on emitting like there was no tomorrow. The US will take all those emissions and more, including its own, and sequester them, entirely at its own expense.

We can only contemplate with something approaching awe the willingness of the US population to invest so heavily into a project which will save the planet in the long term, but in the short term will cost a bomb. Money that could be used in education, roads, defense, health care or much more is being nobly devoted to save the planet.

It is truly awe inspiring that a nation can be so dedicated to saving the planet that it is ready to plunge itself into poverty in order to make sure human civilization on this planet is preserved 100 years from now.

I suggest writing to your representative to express your approval. Make sure when you do to include how much this noble venture is going to lower global temps by. He or she probably doesn’t know, but has approved this venture on ethical grounds. Well, tell them the facts!

Paul Lognonne
July 7, 2021 5:29 am

The man made global warming theory is based on the following premise. A change to 1/10000 part of the atmosphere is responsible for increasing the temperature of the whole atmosphere by 1.5 degrees C. Think about it. Quantitivily absurd.

July 7, 2021 5:56 am

The oil companies aren’t going anywhere soon. Besides, don’t they own the majority of the CSS technology patents?? And a good percentage of the wells the Co2 will be stored in under CSS, too – no?
I could be wrong about that – but I definitely remember seeing that mentioned around here somewhere a few years back.

Raphael V Ketani
July 7, 2021 6:41 am

CCS is a total scam!!! The more CO2 that’s pumped into the ground, the more CO2 that exsolves from the ocean to the atmosphere to replace it! It’s a system that has to remain in balance. I said it once and I’ll say it again. The whole idea of CCS is idiotic and pointless!

H. D. Hoese
July 7, 2021 7:01 am

The Gulf coast petroleum industry has historically been one of the smartest, most competent one around. Not perfect but have considerable experience with dictators, check out Plaquemines Parish and the Middle East, some workers may come home from the latter. Lots of experience with the Petroleum Reserve and carbon dioxide. University of Texas administrative politics may be a problem, but the Bureau of Economic Geology still seems smarter, that doesn’t take much currently.UT claims that their libraries may finally be open to the public and completely to students and faculty next month. Libraries used to be safe spaces, last time I was on the Austin campus it seemed to be one of the most diverse around, new administration may not know that yet, be glad they aren’t producing our energy. Texas still has more potential fossil windmills coming however. Louisiana has avoided renewables better, more clouds and less wind. .

Shoki Kaneda
July 7, 2021 7:22 am

We already have carbon storage. They are called oil and gas deposits and are stored underground until we need them.

Gary Wayne Meyers
July 7, 2021 7:33 am

I wonder what the carbon footprint is for building and maintaining these facilities.

Kevin kilty
July 7, 2021 7:44 am

I agree that CCS for the sake of simply storing CO2 is just plain stupid. It is a matter of converting a fossil fuel to work potential and then burying a large fraction of the work potential. However, if one can take the CO2 and use it to aid in the production of petroleum which we need to use for practically everything in our modern society, then the only question is that of economics. Can this be done economically. I’d say the petroleum industry is quite capable of making this judgment rationally.

In reality the people making this judgment are a horde of benighted voters who have no idea what they are demanding, politicians always in need of snake oil to remedy the neuroses of these folks and rent seekers always ready to sell snake oil. Even as big as the Gulf Coast is, and assuming the climate models are even remotely accurate, the amount of global warming mitigated by these efforts will be below detection limit (BDL).

July 7, 2021 7:45 am

How is this different from fracking? Where are gas and oil prices going down?

Another Scott
July 7, 2021 10:42 am

Carbon dioxide storage! Not just carbon! The real issue everyone is debating is carbon dioxide emissions from internal combustion not carbon. Carbon is good! Carbon Dioxide is good! Climate always changes!

Thanks for allowing the rant.

Bill Powers
July 7, 2021 11:26 am

How disappointing. And Here I was thinking they were ready to roll out their unicorn flatulence capture and storage hub, to sustain are energy needs until Pixie Dust can be detected in the universe and modified to power our energy needs.

paul courtney
July 7, 2021 1:42 pm

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just pump the oil and gas back into the ground? I know, I know, leaving it in the ground is preferred by greens, but dems like the idea of pumping it out to pump it back in again, call it green jobs.

July 8, 2021 7:30 am

Lake Nyos.
Buy oxygen bottles and electric car. ‘Cos the gas powered car will not get you anywhere.

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