ConocoPhillips and Peabody Energy are developing plans for a new coal gasification synthetic natural gas (SNG) plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. However, this project was cancelled in 2013/2014. The plant was supposed to be built carbon capture-ready, and the partners have given a commitment to developing a legal and regulatory framework that will make long-term carbon storage viable.
If plans for CCS are realised, the venture is aiming for pre-combustion capture of around 5 million tonnes per annum of CO2 for storage in an onshore saline formation.
The feedstock will come from large coal reserves adjacent to the site, and the partners claim the new plant will produce less than 5% of the emissions of a similar capacity coal-fired plant.
The plant location is close to existing natural gas pipelines as well as geological formations with the potential for CO2 sequestration. Regulations are in place for using CO2 in EOR operations in the area. However, regulations for storing CO2 permanently underground are still under development. ConocoPhillips and Peabody are working with industry, government, research agencies and NGOs to develop the regulatory, legal and economic conditions required to deploy CCS long-term.
Along with E.ON US, the partners helped set up the Western Kentucky Carbon Storage Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with the Kentucky Geological Survey and the University of Kentucky to test storage potential of geological formations in the area. CO2 has already been successfully injected into a test well, and analysis and monitoring is continuing.
Local support for the project, which obtained a draft air quality permit in late 2009, is high due to perceived economic and employment benefits for the state.
The plant was scheduled to begin operating in 2017, but was cancelled in 2014.
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