February 04, 2013 at 16:05 PM EST
CONSOL Energy, VCCER Announce Research Project Aimed at Identifying Coal Seam Carbon Storage Alternatives

BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va., Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX) and the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) at Virginia Tech announced today their collaborative efforts on a research project to be conducted in Buchanan County, Va., with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

The project is one of the carbon storage alternatives being explored by the NETL and will test the potential of unmineable coal seams to store carbon dioxide. CONSOL Energy will donate the use of three coalbed methane wells in the pilot project to be conducted by VCCER and NETL.

"We are pleased to be a part of this important research, which will serve to further define carbon storage alternatives and continue our collaborative efforts to develop clean coal technologies," said Steve Winberg, vice president of CONSOL Energy's research and development department.

Representatives of VCCER, CONSOL Energy and Cardno MM&A (formerly Marshall Miller & Associates, a Southwest Virginia geological and mining consulting firm) were in attendance at the February meeting of the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors today to explain the project and its significance to members of the board and the public.

Using three coalbed methane wells donated by CONSOL Energy's CNX Gas Virginia operations, plans are to inject and store up to 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into underlying coal seams at the identified site this fall.  CO2  is a naturally occurring odorless, colorless atmospheric gas. It is exhaled every time we breathe and one of its common uses is in the carbonation of drinks, including sodas.

The injection will be performed during a one-year period and builds on a recently completed 1,000-ton injection test that took place in neighboring Russell County, Va. in 2009. CNX Gas, VCCER and NETL also participated in that test.

For this current research program, a comprehensive plan to monitor the injected CO2 has been established by VCCER and NETL to allow understanding of the feasibility of CO2 storage in unmineable coal seams and to explore the potential for enhanced coal bed methane recovery (ECBM). It is expected that the coal seam will adsorb the carbon dioxide and potentially release even more methane for collection and use, as occurred in the smaller scale test in Russell County. The current test is part of a larger effort funded by NETL for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects.

CCUS is the process of capturing CO2 from large stationary sources, such as power plants, using that CO2 to produce more oil or natural gas from an existing field and simultaneously storing the CO2 in a way that prevents its release to the atmosphere.

"The research will test the ability to inject CO2 into coal seams that cannot be mined, as well as the potential to enhance coalbed methane recovery," said Dr. Michael Karmis, director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research and the Stonie Barker Professor of Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech. "I must praise the tremendous cooperation of the gas operator, CONSOL Energy's CNX Gas; and the mineral owner, Harrison-Wyatt, LLC, whose generosity helps make this most important research possible."

For this pilot test, the three existing coalbed methane wells to be utilized will be converted for CO2 injection and three new wells will be drilled to monitor reservoir pressure, gas composition and the CO2 path. The targeted coal seams are in the Pocahontas and Lee formations and range from 900 to 2,200 feet in depth and from 0.7 – 2.5 feet in thickness. The pilot project is expected to begin in Fall of 2013.

"The results of this test will be vital to assess the potential of geologic storage in Appalachian coal seams as a safe and permanent method to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing coalbed methane recovery," Karmis explained.

The technical research team for the Buchanan County site is comprised of researchers from the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech; Cardno MM&A; CONSOL Energy's Research and Development department; the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy; Southern States Energy Board; Gerald R. Hill Ph.D., Inc.; Geological Survey of Alabama; Sandia Technologies; and Det Norske Veritas.

About CONSOL Energy

CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) is a Pittsburgh-based producer of coal and natural gas. It has 12 bituminous coal mining complexes in four states and reports proven and probable coal reserves of 4.5 billion tons.  The company's premium Appalachian coals are sold worldwide to electricity generators and steelmakers. In natural gas, CONSOL has transformed itself from a pure-play coalbed methane producer to a full-fledged exploration and production company. The company is a leading producer in the Marcellus Shale, has an active exploration program in the Utica Shale and has proved natural gas reserves of over 3.5 trillion cubic feet. Operational safety is the company's top core value and CONSOL boasts a record of almost two times better than the industry average for underground bituminous coal mines.  In 2011, the company recorded its best safety record since it was founded in 1860.  CONSOL Energy is a member of the Standard & Poor's 500 Equity Index and the Fortune 500. Additional information about CONSOL Energy can be found at its Web site: www.consolenergy.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

Various statements in this release, including those that express a belief, expectation or intention, may be considered forward-looking statements (as defined in Section 21E of the Exchange Act) that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Accordingly, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a prediction of actual results. The forward-looking statements may include projections and estimates concerning the timing and success of specific projects and our future production, revenues, income and capital spending. When we use the words "believe," "intend," "expect," "may," "should," "anticipate," "could," "estimate," "plan," "predict," "project," or their negatives, or other similar expressions, the statements which include those words are usually forward-looking statements. When we describe strategy that involves risks or uncertainties, we are making forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements in this press release, if any, speak only as of the date of this press release; we disclaim any obligation to update these statements. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations and assumptions about future events. While our management considers these expectations and assumptions to be reasonable, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, regulatory and other risks, contingencies and uncertainties, most of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control. These risks, contingencies and uncertainties relate to, among other matters, the following: deterioration in economic conditions in any of the industries in which our customers operate, or sustained uncertainty in financial markets cause conditions we cannot predict; an extended decline in prices we receive for our coal and gas affecting our operating results and cash flows; our customers extending existing contracts or entering into new long-term contracts for coal; our reliance on major customers; our inability to collect payments from customers if their creditworthiness declines; the disruption of rail, barge, gathering, processing and transportation facilities and other systems that deliver our coal and gas to market; a loss of our competitive position because of the competitive nature of the coal and gas industries, or a loss of our competitive position because of overcapacity in these industries impairing our profitability; coal users switching to other fuels in order to comply with various environmental standards related to coal combustion emissions; the impact of potential, as well as any adopted regulations relating to greenhouse gas emissions on the demand for coal and natural gas, as well as the impact of any adopted regulations on our coal mining operations due to the venting of coalbed methane which occurs during mining; foreign currency fluctuations could adversely affect the competitiveness of our coal abroad; the risks inherent in coal and gas operations being subject to unexpected disruptions, including geological conditions, equipment failure, timing of completion of significant construction or repair of equipment, fires, explosions, accidents and weather conditions which could impact financial results; our focus on new gas development projects and exploration for gas in areas where we have little or no proven gas reserves; decreases in the availability of, or increases in, the price of commodities and services used in our mining and gas operations, as well as our exposure under "take or pay" contracts we entered into with well service providers to obtain services of which if not used could impact our cost of production; obtaining and renewing governmental permits and approvals for our coal and gas operations; the effects of government regulation on the discharge into the water or air, and the disposal and clean-up of, hazardous substances and wastes generated during our coal and gas operations; the effects of stringent federal and state employee health and safety regulations, including the ability of regulators to shut down a mine or well; the potential for liabilities arising from environmental contamination or alleged environmental contamination in connection with our past or current coal and gas operations; the effects of mine closing, reclamation, gas well closing and certain other liabilities; uncertainties in estimating our economically recoverable coal and gas reserves; defects may exist in our chain of title and we may incur additional costs associated with perfecting title for coal or gas rights on some of our properties or failing to acquire these additional rights we may have to reduce our estimated reserves; the outcomes of various legal proceedings, which are more fully described in our reports filed under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; the impacts of various asbestos litigation claims; increased exposure to employee related long-term liabilities; increased exposure to multi-employer pension plan liabilities; minimum funding requirements by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (the Pension Act) coupled with the significant investment and plan asset losses suffered during the recent economic decline has exposed us to making additional required cash contributions to fund the pension benefit plans which we sponsor and the multi-employer pension benefit plans in which we participate; lump sum payments made to retiring salaried employees pursuant to our defined benefit pension plan exceeding total service and interest cost in a plan year; acquisitions and joint ventures that we recently have completed or entered into or may make in the future including the accuracy of our assessment of the acquired businesses and their risks, achieving any anticipated synergies, integrating the acquisitions and unanticipated changes that could affect assumptions we may have made and divestitures we anticipate may not occur or produce anticipated proceeds including joint venture partners paying anticipated carry obligations; the anti-takeover effects of our rights plan could prevent a change of control; increased exposure on our financial performance due to the degree we are leveraged; replacing our natural gas reserves, which if not replaced, will cause our gas reserves and gas production to decline; our ability to acquire water supplies needed for gas drilling, or our ability to dispose of water used or removed from strata in connection with our gas operations at a reasonable cost and within applicable environmental rules; our hedging activities may prevent us from benefiting from price increases and may expose us to other risks; changes in federal or state income tax laws, particularly in the area of percentage depletion and intangible drilling costs, could cause our financial position and profitability to deteriorate; and other factors discussed in the 2011 Form 10-K under "Risk Factors," as updated by any subsequent Form 10-Qs, which are on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

SOURCE CONSOL Energy

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