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CO2 storage project begins

OWENSBORO — The Kentucky Geological Survey has started work on a carbon-storage project in Western Kentucky.

The drilling pad has been constructed at the Hancock County site and the road up to the pad has been built, said Dave Williams, a principal investigator for the project.

The Kentucky Geological Survey will inject carbon dioxide into an 8,000-foot-deep well to study the potential of storing carbon dioxide in the earth.

Depending on the outcome of the research, facilities such as power plants that burn coal for power might build wells to store carbon dioxide instead of emitting it into the atmosphere, Hancock Judge-Executive Jack McCaslin told Hancock Fiscal Court last year.

Workers are completing seismic tests and doing imaging on the rocks deep where the Survey's target zones are.

They want to get a better idea of what they are drilling into, Williams said.

The project will cost more than $5 million. The state is paying $1.4 million.

Peabody Energy, ConocoPhillips and E.ON U.S., which formed the Western Kentucky Carbon Storage Foundation, are funding the rest of the project.

The survey is waiting on a commitment from a drilling rig before it can start construction of the well itself.

It is also still waiting for a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency to inject the carbon dioxide.

The earliest start the survey could have is mid-January, Williams said. It is allowed to begin drilling the well without an EPA permit.

The EPA is also requiring the survey to drill a water-monitoring well, along with the well that will contain the carbon dioxide.

It will take about 45 days to drill the well. The testing period is about two weeks.

Carbon dioxide will be brought to the well by truck. The pressure of being deep in the ground will change the carbon dioxide from gas to liquid.

Once testing is complete, the Kentucky Geological Survey will continue to monitor the site.

"We plan to monitor it for five years total," Williams said.