Regional Characterization Study


In order to improve understanding of carbon capture and storage (CCS) potential in the Big Sky region, BSCSP collects data to characterize the geology, terrestrial landscape, economic and regulatory frameworks, and existing infrastructure within our partnership area. Data is assimilated from state oil and gas databases, well reports, published literature, pipeline and infrastructure databases, satellite imagery, and more. The comprehensive dataset is used as a first step in screening for prospective storage resources.


Using the generated datasets, BSCSP employs techniques such as geospatial analysis and subsurface geologic modeling to map and evaluate rock formations for carbon storage. Formations that fit the screening criteria are identified as potential carbon sinks. Using methodologies developed by the regional partnership program (described in DOE’s Site Characterization Best Practice Manual and National Carbon Atlas), storage capacity, in metric tons of CO2, are calculated for each carbon sink.

Prospective carbon storage sites are also analyzed for economic and operational viability. Network analysis, a geospatial method for mapping routes between endpoints, is conducted to analyze the proximity of potential sinks to CO2 emission sources. The analysis utilizes existing infrastructure and transportation networks across the region. Prospective storage resources are also assessed by characterizing the environmental and cultural setting of a site, the project’s alignment with regional and local social interests, and any permitting and regulation limitations.


Given the diverse energy portfolio of the Big Sky states and the vast presence of suitable environments for CCS activities, the region has great potential to store a large proportion its ~250 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions. CO2 capacity estimates for three geologic domes located in Montana (Kevin, Bowdoin, and Porcupine), total 5.3 gigatons alone.

BSCSP continues to expand on characterization activities and refine CO2 capacity estimates for the region. As part of this, BSCSP collaborates closely with partners and agencies in the information sharing process and the updating of new datasets. Current characterization work is integrated into our interactive mapping portal for public and easy access. To view and explore BSCSP’s interactive maps, click here.