Open or closed? A discussion of the mistaken assumptions in the Economides pressure analysis of carbon sequestration

The proposition by Economides and Ehlig–Economides (E&E) in 2009 and 2010 that geological storage of CO2 is ‘not feasible at any cost’ deserves to be examined closely, as this is counter to the view expressed in the overwhelming majority of geological and engineering publications (IPCC, 2005 and IEAGHG, 2009). The E&E papers misrepresent this work and suggest that: (1) CO2 cannot be stored in reservoirs that have a surface outcrop; (2) CO2 storage capacity in reservoirs without outcrops has been over-estimated and (3) the potential for CO2 storage in the deep subsurface is miniscule. We take issue with each of these, discussed in turn below. We also (4) review the evidence to date, which contradicts the Economides’ analysis, and (5) describe common pressure management strategies that demonstrate a more realistic and rational assessment of the experience of CO2 injection to date. We conclude that large-scale geological CO2 storage is feasible.