Port of Los Angeles, Main Channel
Anza Borrego State Park
Port of Los Angeles Refinery
Palm Springs
Long Beach Power Plant

Wilmington Graben Project


Santa Monica & San Pedro Bays (Google Earth)

Santa Monica & San Pedro Bays (Google Earth)


The Los Angeles Basin presents a unique combination of great need and great opportunity for large scale geologic storage of CO2. In part due to its significant population, and in part due to its historical and geologic setting as one of the most prolific oil and gas producing basins in the United States, the region is home to more than a dozen major power plants and oil refineries which produce more than 5 million metric tons of fossil fuel related CO2 emissions each year.

Pliocene and Miocene sediments in the Los Angeles Basin (massive interbedded sand and shale sequences) are known to provide excellent and secure traps for oil and gas. The area boasts several billion-barrel oil and gas fields, including the giant Wilmington Field in Long Beach (more than two billion barrels produced to date). These formations have been used by the Southern California Gas Company for very large scale underground storage of natural gas at half a dozen locations throughout the Los Angeles Basin for more than 50 years, demonstrating both the storage potential and security of these formations for CO2 sequestration if properly characterized and selected.

Given the population density (and complex land ownership), it is impractical to site a large scale CO2 storage project onshore beneath the city. More than a 3000 foot thickness of Pliocene and Miocene are present in the large Wilmington Graben directly offshore of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor area, at appropriate depths for CO2 sequestration (about 3000 to 7000 feet). This zone is easily accessible yet geologically isolated from the nearby Wilmington Field and onshore area, reducing the risk of migration and, therefore, the risk to the public.

We are currently undertaking a comprehensive research program to better characterize these Pliocene and Miocene sediments in the Wilmington Graben and surrounding areas for high volume CO2 storage. This effort includes:

1) Detailed log evaluation of existing exploration wells in the area;
2) Improved evaluation and interpretation of existing 2D and 3D seismic data;
3) Acquisition and interpretation of several additional 2D seismic lines;
4) Drilling and coring two new evaluation wells into the Graben (Pliocene and Miocene) and one on the landward side of the THUMS-HB fault;
5) Development of 3D geologic models, geomechanical models, and CO2 injection and migration models for the region;
6) Analysis of industrial sources of CO2 (top 20 in the LA Basin);
7) Engineering study of existing and new pipeline systems to transport CO2 from significant local sources to sequestration sites (transport infrastructure study);
8) Risk analysis, including:
  • Seal continuity and uncertainty;
  • Existing well completion integrity (primarily cement);
  • Seeps along faults;
  • Natural seismicity (historical impact on oil and gas production and gas storage operations in the Los Angeles Basin);
  • Induced seismicity (characterization of target sands, analog injection monitoring);
  • Spill points, long-term permeation through caprock.