IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme


CCS status in Japan

67 JG imageIEAGHG were invited to present at the 2015 CCS Seminar organised by RITE in Tokyo, Japan this month. Some 280 people attended the event. The event was held against the back drop of the restart of the first nuclear power plant in Japan and that Japan’s INDC to the UNFCCC did not include CCS. The reason given was that the Japanese Government does not yet feel that CCS is a proven technology.

I used my 50 minutes to give an overview of the status of CCS globally highlighting the fact that there are now several CCS demonstration projects underway in USA, Canada and northern Europe. Also many more are planned to start up in the next year. My presentation can be found on our web site at

Mike Monea from SaskPower highlighted the operational successes from the first year of operation at Boundary Dam 3.
I think the two presentations combined showed that CCS is real and deployment of CCS in industry and in the power sector is now moving at pace.


Very poor progress on the export amendment for CCS

67 TDcroppedIt was the 37th meeting of the London Convention and the 10th meeting of the London Protocol this week, the global treaties that protect the marine environment. The detailed work on CCS was completed in 2012 (see IEAGHG 2013-IP26 and 2014-IP19), but outstanding is the ratification of the 2009 CO2 export amendment which is a barrier to transboundary projects offshore, and there is an ongoing request for information and experiences with offshore CCS which IEAGHG responds to.

In terms of ratification of the CO2 export amendment, UK and Norway had previously ratified, and the Netherlands announced at this meeting that they have now also ratified. There were no reports of progress by other countries, although last year Korea, Canada and Australia and Sweden announced they were working on ratification. So it appears there is very poor progress given that two thirds of the 45 Parties to the London Protocol need to ratify the export amendment for it to come into force.

On marine geoengineering, the geoengineering amendment from 2013 (see2013-IP27) is also slow in being ratified so far (none so far), but UK, Norway and Sweden announced they were now working on it. Interestingly, there was some feedback that this amendment was actually deterring further research on ocean fertilisation.

In the margins I learnt that OSPAR, the treaty for the North East Atlantic, is recommencing some work on CCS.

In conclusion, poor progress on enabling transboundary CCS, and this will act as a barrier to wider deployment of CCS in the future. However there is continuing interest in offshore CCS, and in the updates from IEAGHG and IEA. More information will be provided shortly in an IEAGHG Information Paper.


USDOE Carbon Storage Program: 2015 Project peer review

James-Craig cropThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Fossil Energy, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) invited IEAGHG to provide an independent and impartial peer review of selected projects within the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s Carbon Storage Programme. In March 2015 Tim Dixon, James Craig and Samantha Neades from the IEAGHG convened a panel of five leading academic and industry experts from the USA, Germany, Australia and Sweden to conduct a peer review of 12 research projects. At the conclusion of each project review, these recognized technical experts provided recommendations on how to improve the management, performance, and overall results of each individual research project.

The DOE Carbon Storage program is focused on the development of advanced technologies to enable safe, cost-effective and permanent geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) both onshore and offshore. The technologies being developed will benefit both industrial and power sector facilities that will need to mitigate future CO2 emissions. The program’s aim is to improve the effectiveness of these advanced technologies to facilitate CO2 storage in different types of geological reservoirs and improve the ability to understand the behaviour of CO2 in the subsurface.

The panel discussed each project to identify and come to a consensus on each project’s strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for project improvement. The panel concluded that the review provided an excellent opportunity to comment on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each project. The review has also provided an insight into the range of technology development and the relative progress that has been made. The structure of the review, and the variety of different projects, has stimulated interest and engagement that should also be useful for the DOE program, especially the DOE project managers.


ICEF 2015 Japan

67 JG imageThe Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF) series was started in 2014 under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzoe Abe. The conference programme is extremely comprehensive with both plenary lectures from key international speakers on topics related to GHG mitigation and concurrent sessions on topics like geothermal power, hydrogen production, smart grids etc., the conference web site giving the full programme can be found at:

I was invited to the second of these events by the organising committee to speak in a panel session on CCS. The CCs session was held on day 2 of the conference and comprised 5 speakers;

  • Leon Clarke, PNNL who gave an overview of the need for CCS as emphasised in the 5th Assessment report
  • Myself who gave an overview of the current global status of CCS
  • Shinichi Nakao of RITE gave an overview of capture research activities in Japan
  • Sally Benson, Stanford University gave an overview of the safety of geological storage
  • Mike Monea, SaskPower updated the audience on the status of Boundary Dam in Canada.

The technical session was followed by a lively Q&A session with the 60 or so delegates that attended. There was much focus in the Q&A on the Japanese situation, the need for CCS in Japan and on the public perception of CCS around the world. One key issue that was raised is that the Japanese Government regards CCS as unproven but the panel stated clearly that it was now proven and safe.

There is an online discussion board provided on the ICEF web site which you can access at  which also adds to the session debate.


Risk Management Network and Environment Research Network Combined Meeting

James-Craig cropA Research Management Network and Environmental Research Network Combined meeting was held at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC), in Southampton. The meeting was attended by 62 delegates from 11 countries. The three day meeting included themes on risk assessment methodologies, risk communication and mitigation strategies as well as environmental research. There was an emphasis on potential impacts of CO2 in marine environments, natural variability and the unscheduled release of CO2 from pipelines. Coverage also included formation fluid release, overburden features, international initiatives and environmental impact assessments notably the Peterhead – Goldeneye project.

039During the meeting representatives from National Grid explained the background to their Endurance project which will be Europe’s first CO2 superstore. A large deep saline aquifer off the east coast of England has been identified as a potential storage location for multiple carbon emission point sources in the Yorkshire-Humberside region. The company is also engaged in a series of R&D projects under the COOLTRANS programme to assess the risks of CO2 pipeline transport which will lead to best practice, safe and long-term conditions for CO2 transportation.

The environmental research topics highlighted by the meeting focused on the environmental changes caused by CO2. In shelf seas with a high tidal flux, like the North Sea, there is rapid dispersion so the impact of CO2 anomalies are likely to be limited. There are also wide natural variations which need to be distinguished from any artificially induced changes. The importance of overburden characterisation above caprock and storage complexes with multiple seals has been recognised. For example, chimney structures in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea are evidence of natural fluid flows through the overburden succession. These features need to be investigated to distinguish the origin of naturally occurring seeps and any other anomalies.

The meeting concluded that the risk assessment for CO2 geological storage is maturing. If leaks do occur they are likely to have low environmental impacts. Wellbore issues are still the predominate risk. There are established technology solutions but more work to test and apply them was suggested. The meeting has clearly shown that great developments in understanding environmental aspects in the marine environment are taking place. Mobile sensor technology is also improving especially with the advent of long-range AUVs. The meeting concluded on a successful note and clearly highlighted the advances in research on marine impacts around the world.

047After the meeting some of the delegates visited two key sites on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. The guided tour’s first destination was the Bridport Sands. This formation is an important reservoir rock for the Wytch Farm Oilfield further to the east near Bournemouth. The formation includes calcified bands and vertical fractures. These features are important to understand because they influence fluid movement and help to explain the challenge of monitoring CO2 injected into similar reservoirs. Delegates also visited Lulworth Cove where there is a succession from the Portland Limestone of the Upper Jurassic through the Purbeck Beds into the Cretaceous Wealden, Gault Clay, Greensands and finally Chalk. The location also displays evidence of significant folding caused during the Alpine Orogeny known locally as the Lulworth Crumple. These two locations, and other exposures along this World Heritage coast, enable geoscientists to gain a broader insight into subsurface complexities which are inferred from geophysics and wellbore sequences. The identification of secure, long-term storage reservoirs for CO2 ultimately depends on understanding such geological complexities.


Project news at Risk and Environment Meeting – Endurance

67 TDcroppedAs well as the technical programme and discussions in the Risk Management Network and Environmental Research Network meeting, there were also announcements on projects.

The week before there had been headline-grabbing news about one of the UK’s two CCS projects in the UK DECC Competition, that Drax were not proceeding in the White Rose project. The media took this that the project would not be able to proceed. However this was clarified by participants from National Grid at the meeting, who said that in fact the Capture Power Ltd (which includes Drax, Alstom, and BOC) and National Grid remained committed to delivery of the CCS project, and that Drax was only one of the investors. Drax itself remains committed to supporting the project up to the final investment decision (FID) and will continue to make the site and infrastructure available to the project afterwards. There was further news that National Grid’s storage site in the North Sea had now been named as “Endurance”, with the objective of being “Europe’s first CO2 Superstore”. We look forward to hearing more about Endurance!


Risk and Environment Meeting Concludes

67 TDcroppedThe three days of presentations and discussion in the Risk Management Network and Environmental Research Network meeting have concluded. The meeting had an offshore theme, and was hosted by the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. The sixty attendees discussed over 38 presentations on the latest work on topics including risk assessment methodologies, mitigation strategies, projects’ risk management, impacts of CO2 in the ocean, natural variability in environments, pipeline environmental impacts, formation fluid release, overburden features, international initiatives, and environmental impact assessments.

RA 1Of particular note was a session on formation fluid release into the marine environment, and the development of sensors for marine monitoring. Attendees were given tours of the AUV workshops (autonomous underwater vehicles). One of these is being kitted-out for CCS monitoring research. Great advances in offshore monitoring are being developed and applied.

The meeting concluded that the risk assessment for CO2 geological storage is maturing, recognising that with leaks from storage, if they occur, are likely to have low environmental impacts. Wellbore issues are still the predominate risk, an area of known technology solutions but more work to test and apply these was suggested. There are great developments in understanding environmental aspects in the marine environment. A sense of perspective was seen also, in comparison of potential impacts with those from other activities. Further work looking at formation fluid releases was encouraged, and field tests of new sensors eagerly anticipated.

Overall it was good to see the progress in all areas, and to facilitate discussions and developments of new collaborations.


CO₂MultiStore: Optimising CO₂ storage around the UK - London launch

James-Craig cropThe CO2MultiStore project is a research endeavour sponsored by the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage Centre, the Scottish Government, the Crown Estate, Shell, Scottish Enterprise and Vattenfall. The distinguished former Shell director and crossbencher, Lord Oxburgh, chaired a meeting in the House of Lords to launch the publication of two complementary studies1,2. Lord Oxburgh opened the meeting by stressing the necessity for CCS and the drive to facilitate offshore, shelf areas for CO2 storage. With multiple industry co-ordination storage assets could be opened up over a wide area, but collaboration between industry, government and regulators will be essential. A planning and co-ordination role, currently under the remit of Crown Estate, needs to be extended across all offshore responsibilities.

Maxine Akhurst, from the British Geological Survey, outlined the two key objectives of the project: the secure containment of CO2 in two or more sites within a single formation; and to determine how multiple sites can operate using a practical and feasible approach that combines academic research and industry expertise. The study area focussed on the Captain Sandstone a formation that extends across a wide area beneath the outer Moray Firth. This formation occurs at a depth of 2,400m in the area of interest. Two different models, the Scottish Study Captain Model and the Shell Captain Fairway Model, were applied, one to each injection site. The re-use of existing industry derived data, including production metrics, were used to validate the models. The change in the pressure regime induced by simultaneous injection was then predicted from these models over a 30 year period. Evidence from this study clearly shows that both sites can be operated without adverse effects on the other location. Pressure monitoring in the storage formation, and in overlying formations, is essential to provide the key data to manage increases during injection. Additional monitoring by other storage sites may be required to ensure that they do not adversely affect existing storage or hydrocarbon extraction operations. It is clear from this work that oil industry data, and expertise, increases certainty and confidence in assessments.

The predicted outcome of injection at both sites was presented by Chris McDermott, from the University of Edinburgh. The modelled scenario assumed injection began five years after initial injection at the other site. Both sites injected 6 M tonnes for 30 years. A dynamic model was used to check how the pressure increase disseminating from each site. The model also showed how formations above, in the overburden, and below reacted to the pressure change. The impact of thermal stress, pressure stress induced by an increase in fluid pressure, and physical stress changed as CO2 was injected. This study has provided a formative background showing that 360 M tonnes could be stored across an area equivalent to one sixth of the Captain Sandstone formation.
Stuart Haszeldine, from the University of Edinburgh, summarised the main conclusions that can be drawn from the study. The amount of CO2 that can be securely stored, and the associated risks, have been identified. The study has shown that commercial storage can be de-risked and a lease application could be prepared and submitted to Crown Estate. Hydrocarbon industry experience, knowledge and software can be adapted to any UK site. Stuart also concluded that following this study potential CO2 storage sites can be characterised and prepared for storage within six years.

1Optimising CO2 storage in geological formations ; a case study offshore Scotland, CO2MultiStore project September 2015.

2Assessing interactions between multiple geological CO2 storage sites: generic learning from the CO2MultiStore project, 15th September 2015, WP SCCS 2015-03


Early Autumn Highlights

67 JG imageSeptember has so far been a great month for IEAGHG. On the 1st of the month we were pleased to announce the launch of the IJGGC Special Issue commemorating 10 years since the IPCC SRCCS was launched.

On the 8th and 9th we held our third Post Combustion Capture Conference in Regina Canada with our co-hosts SaskPower. We had 185 registrants for the 2 day event with 65 technical papers presented and 30 posters. We also had three excellent plenary speakers; John Litynski from the USDOE, Terfumi Kawasaki from JCOAL and a update on TCM from Roy Vardeim the new managing Director of that facility.

On the 10th we attended the 2015 SaskPower seminar, where I was honoured to give the plenary lecture. To follow that our joint report with SaskPower was released at the meeting and the highlights presented to the 200 attendees.

The 11th was a quiet day we took part in the Saskatchewan Grand CCS tour going to Boundary Dam 3 CCS Demonstration plant, where we were also given a virtual guided of the Shand PCC test facility. All that was followed by a visit to the Aquistore CO2 injection project.

In addition staff from IEAGHG attended the ISO meeting in Oslo, Norway thus assisting in developing international standards.
From here on it will get a bit quieter but not a bad way to kick off a month.


Post combustion capture experts flock to Regina

67 Sian-Twinning webWe are fortunate enough to be able to facilitate the gathering of the world’s experts in post Combustion Capture (PCC) through our PCC conference series (PCCC) every two years and the last few days has seen the latest instalment – PCCC3.

Having had Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) present their results after one years’ operation at the previous conference, expectations were high when we announced a partnership with SaskPower to reveal their results and finding from building and operating the world’s first integrated carbon capture power plant.

We were humbled to have 190 delegates make the effort to travel to Regina, Canada to attend, present and knowledge share.

The first two days of the conference set the scene with highly technical presentations providing the background to the development of the technology now in use at Boundary Dam. It was a packed programme, with 3 parallel sessions allowing 77 presentations and a dedicated poster session with a further 33 posters. The final two sessions provided results from demonstration and pilot scale projects which led us very nicely to the handover from the IEAGHG PCCC3 conference to SaskPower for their CCS Symposium.

Expectation was high and SaskPower did not disappoint, presenting the business case for CCS at Boundary Dam in the morning, and results and learnings inn the afternoon. The presenters were grilled by the audience, all keen to learn as much as possible form SaskPower’s experience, with the questioning going on well into tea breaks and the evening dinner.

A special report was presented to the audience, commissioned by IEAGHG and funded by US DOE, the author; Carolyn Preston was given access to the Boundary Dam team and has produced the report outlining the journey from decision to operation.

SaskPower also used the Symposium to make a special announcement of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with BHP Billiton to share information.

All in all, a very busy, exciting three days and with 150 now off to tour Boundary Dam, what a way to round off such a successful event!


ISO learns about cement plant CO2 capture and eight-legged horses in Norway

67 TDcroppedThe ISO TC265 met in Oslo this week and had a break from the work of standards development to visit the capture test facility at Heidelberg’s Norcem Brevik cement plant. The cement industry is responsible for around 1.9GTof global CO2 emissions, so Europe’s first CO2 capture test facility in the cement industry is an important development, and is organized by Heidelberg Cement, Norcem and the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA) . Commencing in 2013, so far it has tested four capture technologies, based on amine, solid sorbet, membrane, and calcium looping. The latest of these to be tested is Aker’s amine capture and this was seen in-place by the ISO group. This option is capturing over 90% of the CO2 from the slip-streamed flue gas stream, producing 99.9% CO2 stream, with full utilization of the waste heat. This stage of testing of these four technologies ends next month, but more R&D and benchmark evaluations are being planned for this facility. The ISO attendees also found it interesting just to experience an operating cement plant up close, providing an education on cement production from a historic plant that achieves its 100 year anniversary next year and exports its cement products widely around the world. Heidelberg uses a range of options to reduce its CO2 emissions, CCS just being one. The others include the use of alternative fuels, including, RDF, bone meal and other wastes, such that these now make up around 60% of the plant’s fuel, displacing coal as a fuel. Seeing the capture test facility at such a historic plant provided an appreciation of the retrofitability of these capture technologies.

The ISO TC265 week-long meeting was provided with another break from standards development with a half-day seminar on CCS in Norway. The 20 years and 20 million tonnes of CO2 injected by Statoil and the CCS policies and R&D programmes were shared and celebrated. News included that the US DOE have recently announced funding for GE, Alstom and the University of Kentucky to test their capture technologies at Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM). Also interesting was the work by Aker Solutions on doing CO2 EOR offshore, with some novel ideas of placing components subsea. We also learned that Sleipner was named after an eight-legged horse in Norse mythology, apparently the best horse available for Odin to ride, so quite appropriate perhaps for that project.

This ISO TC265 meeting was attended by over 70 experts in CCS and standards from its 20 member countries and Liaison organisations such as IEAGHG. As this ISO world progresses with producing technical reports and standards development for all parts of the CCS chain (several draft standards now exist for transport, storage and terminology), IEAGHG contributes the results of its technical programme, and presented an update on recent and forthcoming activities. Of particular relevance to the work of TC265 is the Special Issue of the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control on the developments since the IPCC Special Report, which provides excellent summaries of the status of CCS technologies.


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