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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Jasmin cropThe aim of this IEAGHG study with funding from GCCSI was to collate information from the public domain on existing CO2 pipelines and to provide the overall lessons learned from this task.

Currently there are more than 6,500 km of CO2 pipelines worldwide. Most of them deliver CO2 to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations in the United States but there is also a growing number under development for CO2 storage projects. Valuable experience is available from these projects for all phases of pipeline projects: from early design to execution and operation.

Based on a wide range of interviews and literature, Ecofys and SNC-Lavalin have gathered information on 29 CO2 pipeline projects (out of more than 80 worldwide) and produced a comprehensive reference manual on the key issues regarding CO2 pipeline projects.

One finding of the study is that CO2 pipelines are both similar and different compared to other gas pipelines, e.g. natural gas. Most of the regulations and standards used for CO2 originate in natural gas pipeline codes. However, they are different in terms of the physical properties of CO2, which results in different design parameters. As most countries, except for the USA, have little or no experience with CO2 pipelines, there are no robust conclusions yet regarding their incident rate compared to other gas pipelines. The CO2 pipelines in the USA have a 40-year history of operation with no civilian injuries or fatalities so far.

Detailed cost information was difficult to find for many projects due to confidentiality. This also applies to costs of auxiliary equipment that belongs to other parts of the CCS chain, like compressors and dehydration units. The study identified that the key factors determining the costs of a CO2 pipeline are terrain, length and capacity. The primary means of cost reduction is the re-use of existing pipeline infrastructure. Some projects in the EU considered this approach (e.g. OCAP, Lacq, and Peterhead).

Currently the main driver for CO2 pipeline projects is EOR because it provides the opportunity to offset investment and operating costs with revenues from increased oil production. CO2 transport and storage as part of larger CCS projects can only generate revenues if a pricing or support scheme is in place in the concerned jurisdiction.

Generally, the permitting and approval processes play a large role in realisation of the project timeline. This can take much longer than expected and exceed the construction time by far, so needs consideration in the overall project design.

Public concern about CO2 pipelines may vary depending on the location, population density, type of project and source or sink of CO2. As public opposition can lead to cancellation of the whole project (e.g. in Barendrecht), effective communication strategies and early involvement of all stakeholders are key elements in addressing such concerns. Although important developments are expected in pipeline technology (e.g. in the fields of corrosion resistance, pigging, crack arresting and flow management), it is likely that the main area, where improvement is necessary, will be public acceptance.

To make access to the collated information easier and more user-friendly, Ecofys also implemented an interactive web tool that shows the location, routing and project details of the 29 CO2 pipeline projects investigated in this study. In addition, Frank Wiersma of Ecofys presented the findings of the study during a webinar hosted by GCCSI.

Download the reference manual

Explore the 29 CO2 pipeline projects

Access recording and slides of the GCCSI webinar