MAKING GEOLOGISTS OUT OF ENGINEERS: INTEGRATING TEXAS SUBSURFACE GEOLOGY FROM THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC GEOLOGY’S AUSTIN CORE RESEARCH CENTER INTO A CLASSROOM DESIGN MODULE FOR PETROLEUM ENGINEERING STUDENTS
Students are asked to design a local storage project for an actual coal-fired power plant, the Fayette Power Project. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) relies heavily on the Fayette Power Project to offer electricity for Central Texas consumers. The facility is located on a 10-square-mile site seven miles east of La Grange, Texas.
Students are instructed to use a local geologic formation, the Wilcox, as the target injection formation. Wilcox core is available to integrate into the design project from the Mobil Lake Creek Unit No. 48 well, in nearby Montgomery County, archived at the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Austin Core Research Center. As part of their work, students can use graphical core analysis and petrophysical data (Guevara and Grigsby, 1992) provided in the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Geological Circular 92-L. Or, as we have done in several instances, students can increase their geological knowledge by interpreting the depositional environments as delta-front facies, delta-plain facies, or shelf/bay/prodelta mud-rich facies from the actual core, then select the best unit for storage.
Once the target is chosen, CO2 phase behavior is evaluated for target-depth temperature and pressure. Storage requirements and achievable injection rates are then calculated by students to assess the pore space requirements and surface land footprint for the storage project. Societal and environmental impact issues are also examined through demonstrations and calculations related to seal integrity and capillary trapping (Olson et al., 2013).