UKCCSRC September 2019 Conference: Core Research Projects #3

Mathilde Fajardy, Imperial College London, talks us through Professor Stuart Hazeldine’s introduction and overview of the Storage work package, discussed in the third Core Research session, which took place on day two of the UKCCSRC Autumn Programme Conference.

Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh, opens the CO2 storage session by introducing the CO2 storage theme, a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and three academic and research partners: Sam Krevor from Imperial College, Jerome Neufeld from the University of Cambridge, and John Williams from the British Geological Survey. This work package aims at covering four areas, including pressure propagation and storage, CO2 migration and storage, CO2 modelling software assessment and exploring a CO2 storage pilot.

As Stuart goes through the different ongoing projects in this team, I get the sense that his group has been pretty busy! A first project studies the CO2 plume movement and trapping modelling in the Mey sandstone, in the context of the ACORN project, and shows (good news!), that CO2 containment was assured over a thousand year time.  In a second project looking at enhanced oil recovery with CO2 (CO2-EOR) in the Pierce Oilfield, they identified where residual oil was available, and how CO2-EOR could lead to net storage of CO2, thereby producing lower carbon oil (Stewart et al. 2018). It seems that CO2-EOR might not be all bad after all… A third project explores the potential for billion ton scale injection sites, by surveying waste water injection for fracking projects in Oklahoma (US). Unfortunately, a strong correlation between increased seismicity and large volume injection sites was observed so far. Further research is needed to see if the same would be true of large-rate CO2 injection sites.

The UK recent net zero target by 2050 signalled an increase in commitment to deliver CCS, with CCS being deployed across multiple sectors including hydrogen, biomass, and with direct air capture.  Knowing whether the UK has enough CO2 storage capacity to meet this increased ambition, and whether this CO2 storage will be permanent, is particularly crucial. In this context, Stuart moves on to the importance of quantifying CO2 storage capacity and CO2 leakages. A key finding is that there is a significant research gap between the 78 GtCO2 of theoretical storage capacity identified in the UK, and the 30 MtCO2 of commercially available storage. More efforts are required to get more commercially ready CO2 storage capacity, to encourage investment in CCS projects. The CO2 leakage project on the other hand demonstrated that natural leakage rates were very limited, and negligible when compared to the rate at which CO­2 is emitted to the atmosphere today, due to human activities (Miocic et al. 2019).

So what can we take away from Stuart’s presentation? That:

1) CO2-EOR could lead to net storage of CO2,

2) that efforts are needed to turn theoretical CO2 storage capacity into commercially-ready CO2 storage sites, and

3)  that natural leakages rates are negligible over thousands of years storage.

Multi-scale modelling needs, Sam Krevor, Imperial College London

Bibliography

Miocic, J. M., S. M. V. Gilfillan, N. Frank, A. Schroeder-Ritzrau, N. M. Burnside, and R S. Haszeldine. 2019. “420,000 Year Assessment of Fault Leakage Rates Shows Geological Carbon Storage Is Secure.” Scientific Reports 9 (1): 769. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36974-0.

Stewart, R J., G. Johnson, N. Heinemann, M. Wilkinson, and R S. Haszeldine. 2018. “Low Carbon Oil Production: Enhanced Oil Recovery with CO 2 from North Sea Residual Oil Zones.” International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 75 (August): 235–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijggc.2018.06.009.

This blog was authored by Mathilde Fajardy, Imperial College London.

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