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Oil exploration and production technology holds the key to secure and large-scale deployment of CO2 capture and storage (CCS), according to a report by the CO2 Capture Project (CCP).

The report provides a definitive treatment of the CO2 storage subsurface technical issues and how oil and gas experience, technology and protocols are available now to help address them.

The report draws on the shared expertise of the CCP participants, research of more than 50 academic institutions and feedback from leading environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Entitled ‘A Technical Basis for Carbon Dioxide Storage’, the 86-page report, edited by Cal Cooper, explains how to assess and manage industrial-scale CO2 geological storage (CGS) projects through appropriate site assessment, operational parameters and monitoring.

Aimed at technical and non-technical stakeholders, it provides key lessons and experience that could support the deployment of CCS at industrial scale by enabling decision makers to draw upon more than 50 years of subsurface expertise from the oil and gas industry.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes CCS could contribute 15-55 per cent of the cumulative mitigation effort until 2100, while the International Energy Agency found that the cost of containing climate change would be 70 per cent higher without CCS.

There are four main topical areas covered in the report: site selection; well construction and integrity; monitoring programmes; and development, operations and closure.

The most effective way to ensure permanent safe storage is to choose sites of sufficient depth (deeper than 800m where CO2 can be injected efficiently in its dense phase) with adequate capacity and an overlying sealing system to ensure containment of fluids.

With well-chosen sites, CO2 is efficiently stored and greatly reduces the risk of operational and containment problems.

Wells must have functional barriers that provide isolation between geological storage intervals and from drinking water and the near-surface environment.

The well-integrity study example included illustrates that good drilling and cementing practices are more important than specific materials used in well construction.

Many monitoring technologies have been successfully applied by the oil and gas industry to understand fluid movement in the subsurface (for example geological structures below the surface).

These techniques are readily adaptable to CO2 storage.

The challenge is to select the most appropriate techniques to apply based on site specifics and level of risk.

As in hydrocarbon extraction, the progression of a CO2 project from site assessment to closure is accompanied by learning that greatly improves its efficiency and risk profile.

With operational and monitoring data, anomalous events can be detected and intervention applied.

At the time of project closure, a thorough understanding of the geology of the system and fluid movement within will form the basis for the future behaviour of CO2 and longer term needs for monitoring and intervention contingencies.

The CCP is a technical authority on CCS, formed in 2000, with the aim of facilitating the sharing of expertise to advance the development of next-generation capture technologies, transport and the development of key aspects of CO2 geological storage, including a certification framework for CO2 geological storage.

CO2 Capture Project

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