Topic 5: Monitoring Lifecycle

Gulf Coast Carbon Center 2018-2022 Aspirational Multi-Year “Big” Plan

Problem statement
We observe globally a lack of consensus or precedent about how much monitoring is sufficient. In past assessments, we observe this comes from 1) lack of clear goals about what is to be accomplished via monitoring; 2) lack of a reproducible process for matching monitoring to goals, and 3) lack of process for action to either document that goals have been met or what should be done if goals fail to be met. We see this problem in many of the proposed and implemented accounting, accreditation, permitting and financing mechanisms. Examples of specific gaps in need of improvement are:

  • Lack of optimization of when/where/how to use tools to achieve goals
  • Missing skills and tools to achieve some goals. For example, how can instrumentation be kept active over project lifespan and possibly during a long post injection-site closure period?
  • Approaches that support long term predictions of no loss, specifically that demonstrate plume stabilization are needed.
  • Lack of strategies for coping with noise limits on detection
  • Inability to detect focused leakage paths with low saturation overall, such as a fracture or failed well completion leakage
  • Need for remote monitoring and other optimizations that can lower cost.
  • Need for strategies for communicating monitoring approaches to affected non-technical
  • stakeholders


To develop effective monitoring strategies that meet the evolving needs for monitoring in different settings, under different risk-tolerance conditions, and in different regulatory environments. These strategies will consider the cost for value assessment, geologic and social/regulatory/cost considerations, and effectiveness for non-technical stakeholder engagement. Outcomes will focus on the following qualities:

  • Enhancements in the role of pre-injection characterization in improved risk assessment and monitoring design
  • Improvements in operational monitoring tools, skills, and approaches
  • Populating the time series of monitoring activities (e.g. attribution-quantification – consequences - remediation) with case studies.
  • Developing methods for documenting site closure attainment


1. Use pre-injection characterization to improve risk assessment and monitoring design

  • Traditionally, characterization is completed before injection and monitoring begin during operation. However, in a dynamic basin (compacting, actively generating hydrocarbons) – monitoring for leakage can be done as part of site selection. Examples of features that can be studied are sea bottom seeps, fluid chimneys, hydrocarbon shows (sea floor, logs, thin sections)
  • Extend the application of understanding gained from dynamic basins to older basins

2. Consider targeted improvements on operational monitoring

  • Attention to the most common outcome – documenting storage success
  • Anomaly/leakage assessment workflow of attribution-quantification-consequences remediation of leakage.
  • Bring real-world experience into design
  • Issues of blowouts – seek development of BMP’s
  • Targeted improvements of tools, skills, and approaches
  • High resolution 3D Seismic (P-cable) offshore
  • Automated and remote surveillance
  • Improved geochemical approaches (links to topic 3)
  • Head space gas assessments, maturing a process-based approach for attribution.
  • Work on issues in lab models (links to topic 2)
  • Collaboration with other research groups on prospective field tests in collaboration, small scale, and large scale.

3. Role of monitoring in attaining site closure

  • Viable methods with demonstrable value for long-term surveillance
  • Strategies for accelerating confidence in site performance and avoiding the need for prolonged surveillance (links to proposal 1)
  • Research on plume stabilization – efficient and low-cost, rapid determination

Four-year target accomplishments

  • Develop a mature matrix for matching monitoring tools to needs that has ties to various project stages (including site selection) and includes project success justification, attribution steps, reduction in the need for long-duration closure monitoring by via improved approaches to assessing stabilization.
  • Develop targeted incremental development in tools and approaches utilizing many domains from numerical models to physical models for small and large demonstrations.
  • Develop better-quantified cost-value approaches.


Go back to Topic 4: The U in CCUS


Last Updated: June 25, 2019

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