Developing Environmental Monitoring for Offshore CO2 Storage Projects


By Tim Dixon

19 March 2018

 The STEMM-CCS project held its second annual meeting last week. This is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project that is developing environmental monitoring to test in-situ at a controlled release of CO2 in the seabed at the Goldeneye location in the North Sea (see IEAGHG 2017-IP14). The project is coordinated by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, with a consortium of partners representing the leading marine science organisations in the EU and Norway, including GEOMAR, PML and NIVA. IEAGHG is on the Stakeholder Advisory Board.

This second annual meeting was hosted near Barcelona to review progress over the previous year and to plan the year ahead. Despite some weather challenges affecting one of the two research cruises in 2017, great progress has been made in collecting environmental background data for the location and testing one of the bespoke landers developed by NOC with its impressive array of sensors. This data is already enabling a better understanding of the complexities and variabilities of the environmental baseline at the Goldeneye location, and enabling the development of realistic detection criteria and monitoring strategies for anomaly detection and attribution. The Goldeneye site is located at the meeting of two sea currents, which adds further variability. The project also includes characterisation of offshore chimney structures and pockmarks (linking with the UK’s CHIMNEY project) and some new seismic and topographic data has been obtained from a survey cruise for pockmarks with fluid fluxes, and from measurements on onshore examples of outcropped analogues of chimney structures. The sensors for the range of chemical and physical measurements have been developed or adapted from existing designs, including the small-scale ‘lab on a chip’ sensor package for nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, pH, alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon. Work is ongoing on the modelling of CO2 and tracer migration in the overburden. Planning is well advanced on the development of the engineering and logistics to build the release site at the seabed, and the planning of the research cruises in 2018 using UK and German research ships. The controlled release is planned for spring 2019.

The annual meeting also included a one and a half day training course on CCS for early career researchers involved in the project, for which IEAGHG provided two presentations. Ben Callow of the University of Southampton was awarded the best student poster prize for his poster on his work on the onshore chimney structures. Ben is also an alumnus of IEAGHG’s 2017 Summer School.

This is an exciting and unique project that will advance offshore environmental monitoring, specifically CO2 leakage detection, attribution and quantification, and CO2 storage site overburden characterisation. Some of this work will be shared and discussed at the forthcoming Offshore CCS Workshop in Oslo on 3-4 May and eleven abstracts from the work have been submitted to GHGT-14.

For more information, updates and new online resources, see .

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