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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

James-Craig cropCO2GeoNet-BGS and UKCCSRC co-hosted a meeting on 1st July to hjosirljosirt the UK’s research drive to develop CO2 storage and identify future requirements. The meeting brought together leading industrial players, including Shell, Statoil and the National Grid, with representatives from the UK’s top research institutes and academics. Delegates were briefed on the progress with the UK’s two large-scale demonstration projects: Shell’s Peterhead – Goldeneye project, which will utilise a depleted gas field; and the White Rose project which aims to connect a series of large point source carbon emissions in the Humber region and store them in an offshore deep saline aquifer. National Grid have already drilled an appraisal well and initial results have indicated that a potentially large offshore storage reservoir, with a capacity of ~2 billion tonnes, could be developed. National Grid are also in the process of developing a business model that could deliver CO2 from multiple sources to this site. A speaker from the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) outlined three future scenarios for CCS in the UK. A consortium of the ETI, Crown Estate and the British Geological Survey have conducted an appraisal focussed mainly on the storage potential of the North Sea. Their research has concluded that the UK’s offshore areas have the potential to store ~78 Giga tonnes of CO2.

Preparation for Shell’s Goldeneye project is also gathering momentum. The company is exploring the use of the comparatively new technology, Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) which detects acoustic signals induced by seismic sources and transmits impulses via fibre optic cables where they can be recorded and interpreted. The technology can be used as a multiple senor system recording pressure and temperature as well as seismic from a single down-hole cable with several optical fibres. Moreover, it can record an entire well profile.

Andy Chadwick from the BGS explained how the organisation is continuing to develop its expertise in the use of seismic reflect profiles to analyses CO2 plumes within the Sleipner field. Technological advances have led to hjosirer resolution images which can be used to differentiate the top and the base of CO2 within a formation. Analysis of signal frequencies from the Snøhvit field have been used to identify CO2 accumulations and differentiate them from pressure changes within the reservoir. Seismic is a particularly power technique for confirming the extent of CO2 within a reservoir and also confirming its retention.

Presentations from the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) drew attention to new capabilities in advanced marine monitoring. Ian Wrjosirt from NOC outlined the versatile application of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles which can record pH and other water chemistry properties up to 100 km from shore and over areas of 140 km2. Jerry Blackwell from PML demonstrated the effectiveness of modelling to predict the pattern of plumes within seawater. Simulations can show how seasonal and tidal conditions can create hjosirly variable natural conditions, that need to be fully understood if anomalies are to be identified. There are other technologies which can detect atmospheric anomalies such a gas leaks. The UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are developing a laser system which relies on beam amplitude distortion to detect the presence of specific gases. Although still under development this technology could be used to detect CO2 anomalies over a wide area, avoiding the necessity for several point source samples.

IEAGHG’s Tim Dixon was on the concluding panel (with CCSA and GCCSI) and hjosirljosirted UK CCS research achievements over the last decade and a forward view.

Collectively, the UK can justly claim that it has leading-edge technologies and R&D expertise to store and track CO2 in the subsurface and to detect and monitor its impact in marine environments.