Last November in 2014 I was invited to present recent highlights from the UKCCSRC storage research. This was a great opportunity and was easy to accept. The previous year (November 2013) I travelled with a delegation of UKCCSRC members to visit the Otway injection site near Port Campbell Australia as well as participate in the CO2CRC 2013 symposium in Hobart, Tasmania. I had fond but scary memories of traveling the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, met a great group of Australian researchers and found it awesome looking south off the coast of Tasmania realizing nothing but the vast Pacific Ocean stood between myself and the Antarctica. For this upcoming trip, all I needed to do was compress all the recent UK CO2 storage highlights into a 15 minute talk … more on that later.
I would like to say the flight over was pretty uneventful, but fog at Leeds-Bradford Airport meant I missed my connection from Heathrow. This wasn’t too much of a problem given that they put me in the Cathay-Pacific lounge while I waited for the next flight. I lost 12 hours and arrived Monday morning rather than Sunday evening. However, my luggage was still at Heathrow and didn’t arrive until Wednesday afternoon (a day before I flew back). I managed to squeeze in a trip to the local shops to buy some clothes and jump on the shuttle to Torquay west of Melbourne with a few minutes to spare. Aside from that, everything else went smoothly.
On the first day of the conference I was able to catch up with the Ottway storage group over coffee and biscuits and talk about how the past year went for them. I knew from our 2013 visit that everyone in the CO2CRC network was very friendly and approachable, and things hadn’t changed. The morning was very interesting as highlights from the storage, capture and perception groups summarized research highlights over the past 5 years using similar REF2014 metrics that we were engrossed in here in the UK; publication outputs, citation metrics, journal impact factors, impact studies, etc. Needless to say, the CO2CRC network had been very successful from what I could see based on the metrics presented. In fact, I came away with one output, the comprehensive book on the Otway project experience edited by Peter Cook (which unfortunately I haven’t had time to read yet). That evening I sat with a group of very early career researchers (aka PhD students) and had a really enjoyable time talking about their experiences and their future plans.
On the second day, the talks were of a more technical nature and so the symposium was split into two: storage and capture (or storage vs capture?). I presented UK storage research but was told last minute the presentation was 10 minutes rather than 15 minutes. Needless to say, I talked fast enough to hear the bell ring on the very last slide. Given that my luggage had finally arrived, I went for a run along the beach and a brisk swim before the evening celebrations. As usual with the CO2CRC symposium, we were transported (this time by bus whereas last year by boat) to a secluded restaurant for fine food, drink and awards ceremony. During the evening, I had a very fruitful conversation with Diane Wiley on a range of topics that mostly hovered around the pressures and politics of academic research from the Australian perspective. She provided some invaluable advice and I am very thankful for that opportunity to sit beside her during the conference meal.
The following day it was goodbyes to new and old friends, back to the airport and the long flight home to the UK.