UKCCSRC Call 2 Project – Quantifying Residual and Dissolution Trapping in the CO2CRC Otway Injection Site – Past, Present and Future

We started working on our project Quantifying Residual and Dissolution Trapping in the CO2CRC Otway Injection Site, funded by UKCCSRC Call 2, late in 2014. The project aims to study the application of oxygen isotopes and noble gases (xenon and krypton), collected during the residual saturation test of the CO2CRC Otway Stage 2B Extension project, to monitor residual trapping of CO2. This is the first study of its kind to use oxygen isotopes in a single-well field experiment to reconstruct residual trapping levels. The Otway CO2 test injection site provides CCS researchers with the ideal conditions to test monitoring techniques.

In December 2014, the three researchers from the University of Edinburgh leading the project, Stuart Gilfillan, Gareth Johnson and Sascha Serno, escaped the Scottish winter to travel to the Otway test site to participate in and co-lead the residual saturation test of the Otway Stage 2B Extension project. During the two weeks at Otway, the operations ran around the clock. As a result of good planning, great organisational leadership by Dr. Chris Boreham from Geoscience Australia and Mr. Rajindar Singh from CO2CRC and excellent collaboration between the different international scientists and field operators, the field measurements were very successful and provided us with tons of interesting new data. We enjoyed our stay at the lovely Great Ocean Road, including great colleagues, local food and drinks, and spectacular scenery.

(You can read more about that first field trip in Sascha’s blog in Jan 2015)

The months following the field trip were characterised by interpretation of the collected stable isotope and noble gas geochemical data. Here, we would also like to thank Sue Golding and Kim Baublys from the Stable Isotope Laboratory at the University of Queensland for being great and fast in analysing the gas and water samples from Otway. We worked together (and still work!) with our Australian colleagues at CO2CRC, CSIRO Energy and Geoscience Australia, as well as colleagues from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to figure out what exactly happened during the field experiment. Part of this phase was a visit by Sascha at the CSIRO Energy Flagship in Clayton South, a suburb of Melbourne, for 4 weeks in April/May 2015 to get some hands-on training and experience in reservoir flow simulations using PetraSim, working with Tara LaForce, Jonathan Ennis-King and Lincoln Paterson. This trip was funded through the UKCCSRC International Exchange Fund. You can read about Sascha’s trip in a blog in May 2015.  Further, Sascha used the trip to work together with our colleagues from CSIRO Energy to advance the interpretation of the noble gas data from the field experiment, and met with the different groups in Melbourne involved in the Otway Stage 2B Extension project. This trip was essential for further progressing the interpretation of the field data. Also, Sascha got back into the Aussie way of living, including Aussie Rules football, beach walks and interesting wildlife and nature. Throughout the year, we presented our results of the project during multiple conferences, including the IEAGHG Monitoring Network in Berkeley, California, in June 2015, the SCCS Conference in Edinburgh in October 2015, and during seminar talks at CSIRO Energy, CO2CRC Melbourne, Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh.


In December 2015, we finished up our interpretation and writing of the oxygen isotope data from the Otway Stage 2B Extension project and submitted it for publication. The submission of the manuscript describing the noble gas data, led by our colleagues at CSIRO Energy, will follow soon. Also, Stuart and Sascha joined Ruta Karolyte, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh working on geochemical and structural geological techniques to investigate the connectivity of fault-separated natural gas reservoir compartments in the Otway Basin and the origin of the CO2 in mineral spring waters in Daylesford, on her field trip to collect gas and water samples for her research project. Find more details about our trip in Ruta’s great blog. The trip was highly successful, and took us to different locations in Victoria and South Australia while enjoying temperatures up to 37 °C and Australian lifestyle. We also had the chance to spend some days in summery Melbourne to meet our Otway colleagues at CO2CRC and CSIRO Energy to discuss current and future collaborations in CCS and geochemical research, as well as going back to the Otway test site for a short visit. At this time, Stage 3 had just kicked-off, so we just came in time to see the site back in action again.

In 2016, we will focus on intensifying our collaborations with our colleagues involved in the project to advance in finishing up the interpretation of the data and implementing new research projects. We will attend conferences, including the annual EGU meeting in Vienna, Austria, to present our final results. The interpretation of the field data resulted in some interesting new research questions that will be studied using modelling and laboratory tests. The results from these tests will help us to produce more scientific outputs and will help to guide us in the development of new projects with CO2CRC.

Even before the end of our UKCCSRC-funded project, we would like to thank the Research Centre for generous funding of our research. The project provided us with great new data, ideas and more close collaborations with our CCS colleagues in Australia, the USA and UK, and collecting a large number of flight miles!