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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

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CATO: A Dutch Research Programme on CO2 Capture, Transport and Storage

By Erik H. Lysen, UCE

Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets agreed under the Kyoto protocol have prompted the Dutch Government to support the CATO programme, proposed by a strong consortium of Dutch companies, research institutions, universities and environmental organisations, led by the Utrecht Centre for Energy research (UCE). Given its size (more than 25 million euro) the CATO programme can be regarded as a national research programme on CO2 Capture, Transport and Storage.

In many countries considerable efforts are being undertaken to promote energy efficiency measures and an increased use of renewable energy sources. At the same time it is becoming clear that the combined effect of energy efficiency and renewables cannot yet achieve the required reductions in emissions alone. Decarbonisation of fossil fuels may also be required to reach the required stabilisation of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, helping to bridge the gap towards a fully renewable energy system. The CATO project aims to build a strong knowledge network in this field of research in the Netherlands.

Research in the past ten years, also by partners of the CATO consortium, has shown that CO2 sequestration has a large potential for the efficient and cost-effective reduction of the emission of CO2. The worldwide CO2 storage potential is very large (according to IEA-GHG figures):

According to the Netherlands National Environment Plan (NMP-4), CO2 emissions in 2030 will have to be reduced by 120 Mton CO2 per year in order to achieve a 30% reduction compared to the emissions in 1990. For the clean fossil fuel option a possible contribution of 50-60 Mton CO2 has been estimated. This implies that, even if the objectives for the contributions of energy efficiency and renewables are met in this decade, a start will also have to be made with the actual storage of CO2 in order to reach the required level in 2030. This will also contribute to the transition to a fully renewable energy supply through the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier.

A prime characteristic of the CATO programme is that all major stakeholders and a number of research groups from very different fields of expertise are working together on the common objective formulated above, within an integrated framework. This is essential, because the implementation of these systems depends on performance and impacts of all components of the system, from primary fuel up to the use of the final energy carrier and the final treatment of waste products like CO2.

So far different institutions in the Netherlands, often from very different perspectives, have worked on a number of aspects or components of Clean Fossil Fuel (CFF) systems. CATO wants to streamline the objectives and perspectives of these activities and integrate them into a comprehensive programme and network, closely connected to international networks in which the partners of CATO participate. Also it aims to assess and develop new knowledge, technologies and approaches for clean fossil fuel use, especially those relevant to The Netherlands.

The strategic results of the CATO programme will be found in the following areas:

The CATO programme itself will contribute to those societal, strategic and environmental benefits by a long list of key deliverables and results. A list of coherent activities will be selected which will assess, develop and explore CFF systems that can be achieve a sustainable energy future for the Netherlands; setting up a coherent and interlinked knowledge infrastructure is a pre-requisite to this.

Project Implementation

The CATO programme is structured in seven distinct work packages.

Project Consortium and Cooperation

The coordinator of CATO is the Utrecht Centre for Energy research. UCE is a collaborative research centre in which 6 groups of Utrecht University and 3 external partners (ECN, ENECO and Ecofys) cooperate in the area of long-term multidisciplinary energy research.

Dissemination and Transfer of Knowledge

Dissemination of knowledge is not a two-way process and will take into account heated debates about the broad range of aspects in cleaning fossil fuels. This particularly holds for the environmental organisations in the CATO consortium, which have clearly stated that in the energy sector their priority lies with energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. As described above, the climate problem can probably not be solved by these two alone, so cleaning fossil fuels will probably be required as the third option, but under strict conditions of safety, etc. Asking difficult questions, such as is done by Environmental NGOS, should be one of the conditions for participating in this project and undoubtedly will lead to new viewpoints within the research community, possibly leading to a reorientation of the research during the project.

A website will be established by UCE and maintained regularly, with requests for inputs from the CATO partners (see At the same time existing networks, such as the EU network CO2NET, of which UCE and other CATO partners are members, will be used as an effective channel to share the knowledge generated in CATO with other European partners.

Period and Budget

The CATO programme will run for five years (2004-2008). The total budget amounts to 25.4 million Euro, of which 12.7 million Euro is a government subsidy from the Dutch ICES-KIS programme.

For further information contact: Utrecht University, Utrecht Centre for Energy research (UCE), Mr. Erik H. Lysen, managing director, Padualaan 14, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands. Tel: +31-30-2537614 Fax: +31-30-2537601 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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CASTOR: CO2 from Capture to Storage

By Pierre Le Thiez, Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP)

The project's objective is to make possible the capture and geological storage of 10% of European CO2 emissions, or 30% of the emissions of large industrial facilities (mainly conventional power stations). To accomplish this, two types of approach must be validated and developed: new technologies for the capture and separation of CO2 from flue gases and its geological storage, and tools and methods to quantify and minimize the uncertainties and risks linked to the storage of CO2. In this context, the CASTOR program is aimed more specifically at reducing the costs of capture and separation of CO2 (from 40-60e /ton CO2 to 20-30e /ton), improving the performance, safety, and environmental impact of geological storage concepts, and, finally, validating the concept at actual sites.

The CASTOR project aims to work on both capture and storage:

The CASTOR project has a total budget of 15.8 Me, 8.5Me of it in the form of a contribution from the European Commission (FP6) for a four-year period.

Expected Key Deliverables:

Partners and participants:

For further information on the CASTOR project please contact: Pierre Le Thiez, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Tore A. Torp, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Progress on the Frio Brine Pilot Experiment

By Susan Hovorka, University of Texas at Austin

The Frio Brine Pilot experiment is designed to field test modeling, monitoring, and verification techniques that can be applied to CO2 sequestration in hjosir-permeability, hjosir-volume sandstones. The site is representative of a broad area that is an ultimate target for large-volume storage because it is part of a thick, regionally extensive, sandstone trend that underlies a concentration of industrial sources and power plants along the Gulf Coast of the United States. Development of geologic storage in this region has excellent potential to upscale to impact US releases.

Experimental objectives are to:

The Frio brine pilot is entering a 6 month period of intensive field work and data collection. Pre-injection characterization including reservoir analysis using wireline logs, 3-D seismic, core from other Frio reservoirs was completed in 2003. Early in 2004, the proposed well construction was approved by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality as a class 5 experimental well. Workover of an existing well as an observation well was completed in May, followed by drilling of a new injection test well 30m downdip of the observation well to be completed in mid June 2004. Pre-injection baseline core sampling, wireline logging, aqueous geochemistry, cross-well seismic and vertical seismic profiling, two well hydrologic testing, and surface water and gas monitoring are scheduled to be completed during July and August of 2004 to prepare for an injection test using 3 000 tons of refinery CO2 during three weeks of September 2004. Cross-well breakthrough of CO2 will be monitored with wireline RST tool and gas and brine sampling. Three tracers will be used to tag the CO2: natural and introduced noble gases, introduced perflourocarbon tracers, and the natural stable isotopic composition of the carbon and oxygen in the CO2. The hydrologic performance of the two phase (brine+ CO2) system will be tested using transient pressure testing. VSP and cross-well seismic will be repeated post-injection, and wireline logging, aqueous and gas geochemistry, and surface monitoring will be repeated at intervals during several months at the end of 2004 following the injection as conditions return toward base line.

The Frio Brine pilot experiment site is 50 km north east of Houston, Texas USA in the South Liberty oil field. The area is in the low topographic relief lower coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico on the terrace above the Trinity River. The area has been developed as an oil field and is now densely wooded and used for agriculture, rural residential, and other low density uses. In the subsurface the selected test interval is 24m-thick, mineralogically complex reworked fluvial sandstone of the upper Frio Formation of Oligocene age. Estimated porosity is 24%, and estimated permeability 50 -200 md. The sandstone test interval is isolated by numerous thick shales above and below and fault compartmentalization on the sides. The injection test will be at 1 500m below surface into a brine-rock system with no hydrocarbon accumulation. Pressure at this depth is estimated to be 150 bar and salinity is estimated as 125 000 ppm. Temperature of 55 degrees C has been measured in the test interval.

The Frio Brine pilot is funded by the US Department of Energy National Energy Technology Lab with Charles Byrer as project manager. The Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geoscience, at the University of Texas at Austin, is the lead institution under Dr. Scott Tinker, Director, and Dr Susan Hovorka, Principal Investigator. GEO-SEQ, a research consortium directed by Dr. Sally Benson and Dr. Larry Myer is fielding a spectrum of surface and subsurface geophysical, hydrologic, geochemical modeling and monitoring approaches. GEO-SEQ includes Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and the Alberta Research Council. SEQURE, CO2 monitoring group of National Energy Technology Lab, is focused on near-surface monitoring. Dr. Yousif Kharaka, US Geologic Survey, is leading subsurface geochemical sampling. Sandia Technologies LLP is the field service provider bringing waste-injection expertise and managing on-site subcontractors. Schlumberger is providing logging, core and water sampling expertise. Texas American Resources donated well access and the pre-injection 3-D seismic survey used in characterization. Local property owners have donated land access for the experiment. BP has provided project review and advice. The Australian CO2CRC is currently negotiating to add their expertise to the project team.

The project helps to add unique data to help understand the viability of using geologic sequestration as a mechanism for reducing atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gasses. Detailed geologic and petrophysical characterization supports modeling both for optimizing experiment design and post-inject model validation. The small volume and short term injection allows intensive monitoring with multiple methodologies and is hoped to yield early results useful to follow-on tests. All data acquired will be made public as rapidly as possible. Although both CO2 injection for enhanced oil recovery and injection for waste disposal have been applied in the region, it is expected that follow-on testing with longer term monitoring over a larger volume of CO2 will be needed to adequately determine the capacity of the subsurface to store CO2 and identify any potential environmental impacts.

Modeling by Chris Doughty at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs has identified some of the key variables which control CO2 injection and post injection migration, including thickness and heterogeneity of the injection interval, residual brine saturation during injection and residual CO2 saturation during gravity drainage. Measurements made over a short time frame and small distance during the Frio Brine Pilot experiment will help define the correct value for these variables. Resulting, better conceptualized and calibrated models will be then be available to develop larger scale, longer time frame injections.

To move toward a larger scale, longer time CO2 storage experiment, an industry-academic partnership, the Gulf Coast Carbon Center (, an initiative of the Jackson School of Geosciences, is working to develop economically viable, environmentally effective options for reducing carbon emissions in the region. Goals include developing a vision for how sources and stores can be aggregated to form a network for capture and storage and to develop a first project which is likely to match a hydrogen or ethylene oxide plant with a reservoir which will be used for CO2 enhanced oil production plus storage.

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Snøhvit Offshore CO2 Storage Project

The Snøhvit development is the world's second largest offshore CO2 storage project and the first export facility for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Norway and Europe (Greenhouse Issues number 56). Huge volumes of natural gas, from deep beneath the Barents Sea will be piped ashore, cooled down and shipped by special carrier to Spain and the USA. Shipments start in 2006, and will continue for more than 20 years. Natural gas was first discovered in the Snøhvit field (central part of the Hammerfest Basin in the Barents Sea) in 1981.

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be shipped in purpose-built vessels capable of carrying 140 000m3 of LNG, in spherical tanks. Condensate and liquefied petroleum gas will also be produced in smaller qualities. The gas currently contains between 5 and 8% CO2 which has to be reduced to less than 50ppmv prior to liquefaction. This means that 700 000 tonnes of CO2 needs to be captured each year. The CO2 will be separated by means of amine scrubbing, with the capability of stripping residual CO2 from all of the lean amine solution after initial separation; the cost of the separation will be about US$ 100 million. All of the gas clean-up, separation and liquefaction facilities are being built on Melkøya island, which is approximately 135 km from the field. Thus the gas has to be transported by pipeline to the shore and the captured CO2 will be returned from the shore by another pipeline to the storage site.

The captured CO2 will be injected into the Tubåen Formation – a deep saline sandstone aquifer at the Snøhvit field about 2 600m below the sea floor and about 60m beneath the main natural gas reservoir. Around 23 million tones of CO2 will be injected there during the 30-year lifetime of the project. The formation is sealed by shale caprocks which should be sufficient to stop the injected CO2 from rising and contaminating the natural gas reservoir above.

Construction of the plant is underway; components are being prefabricated at various European sites. They are transported by ship to Melkøya due to north Norway's climate and limited infrastructure. Two large spiral-wound heat exchangers have been transported the length of Germany by land and water to get to the site. The exchangers are 27 and 22m long and wejosir 122 and 77 tonnes respectively, which meant they were too large to transport by rail or road. These components will be used to cool the natural gas down to -163ºC in order for it to be liquefied.

The first prefabricated modules for the plant were due to reach the island by spring 2004. Concrete storage tanks for LNG and condensate were built last summer and others are due to be constructed this summer which will house the LPG gases.

This is the second large storage project initiated by Statoil. On the Sleipner field in the North Sea one million tonnes of CO2 are stored in the sub-surface annually. In August 2002 Statoil received the World Petroleum Congress's technology development prize for carbon dioxide storage on the Sleipner field.

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CO2 Re-injection at the In-Salah Gas Project

The In-Salah Gas project is a Joint Venture between Sonatrach, BP and Statoil. It is the largest natural gas development project in Algeria. The project entails the development of seven proven gas fields in southern central Algeria.

Hydrocarbon gas containing up to 10% CO2 will be produced from the fields in the Ahnet-Timimoun Basin (central Saharan region of Algeria). The CO2 will be separated and re-injected back into the producing horizon down-dip of the gas-water contact. The first CO2 re-injection is due to start in June 2004.
Dry gas will be transported along a 500-kilometre pipeline from the gas fields to the major gas collection point at Hassi R'Mel from where gas will be exported to markets in Spain and Italy. The project aims to produce 9 billion cubic metres of gas per year. It should increase annual Algerian gas exports by about 15% beyond 2004. A major gas supply deal has already been agreed with Italian power generating giant ENEL where In-Salah Gas will supply ENEL with four billion cubic metres of gas a year.

The project opens a new development for the region of In-Salah, a remote area of the Sahara. Located some 1200km south of Algiers, the licence area covers 23 000 square km and is about 20% of the total District area (120 000 square km), equivalent to the size of England. The overall cost is estimated at $2.7 billion over the 30-year life of the contract.

A key design challenge faced by the jointly staffed In-Salah Gas project team was meeting the hjosir environmental commitments set by the shareholder companies, one of which was the commitment to non-atmospheric disposal of the produced-gas CO2 stream. In-Salah Gas is the first project to store CO2 in an actively producing gas reservoir.

The project provides a case study of petroleum development, where an integrated emissions abatement plan was constructed at an early phase of the project design. The In-Salah project is significantly different in geological characteristics and the storage process from the existing Sleipner and Weyburn monitoring projects and offers an ideal opportunity to gain important additional information on the permanence and safety of CO2 geologic storage.

Monitoring at In Salah Gas will serve a number of purposes:

A five year Joint Industry Programme has been launched to address these issues. The project will commence this year with initial acquisition of baseline data, and will be followed by a detailed monitoring programme once CO2 re-injection has commenced.

The largest hurdle facing CO2 capture and geological storage as a greenhouse gas abatement technique is acceptance that geological storage is secure. The In-Salah CO2 Storage Verification (CSV) project plans to be a public demonstration of storage assurance. It will be a 5-6 year, $30 million program focused on demonstrating best-practice application of CO2 storage monitoring, integrity and verification technologies. This will be a Joint Industry Project (JIP) and participation is invited from industry, academia, government and non-government organisations.

The project is expected to lead in setting precedents for monitoring, regulation and verification of geological CO2 storage and establish CO2 capture and storage as eligible for emission reduction credits.

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Using CO2 to Prolong UK North Sea Oil Too Costly

The UK Energy White Paper "Our Energy Future – creating a low carbon economy", put the UK on a path to a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Central to this policy was an enhanced drive for greater efficiency in all areas of energy supply and consumption, together with an expansion of low to zero emission supply options, in particular renewable energy sources. CO2 capture and storage in which CO2 from fossil fuel combustion is separated and committed to long term storage, was also recognised as being strategically important. Although this allows the continued use of fossil fuels, it also provides a longer timeframe to achieve a transition to a fully sustainable energy system. It would also facilitate the use of a greater diversity of energy sources, thus enhancing security of energy supply.

The UK government said last year that it would set up a plan to implement CO2-based enhanced oil recovery projects, one of several efforts to slow the decline of UK North Sea oil and gas production. CO2 gas can be injected into an oil reservoir to reduce the viscosity of the crude oil, making it flow better and so become easier and cheaper to extract. The increased oil recovery could partially offset the cost of storing the carbon dioxide.

Plans included the development of a CO2-EOR demonstration project, thereby combining two goals. The project would use CO2 to pump extra oil from ageing North Sea oil fields, extending their life while reducing greenhouse gas levels and keeping the gas underground in the depleted reservoirs.

The study has since revealed however, that such a proposal is too expensive for energy companies to implement. "This study has confirmed that CO2-based enhanced oil recovery is not currently an attractive investment to North Sea oil producers," the UK's Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement. "The level of support needed to bridge the economic gap and encourage investment in enhanced oil recovery is uncertain," the study concluded. "The main approach available to government would be to adjust the tax system applying to oil production in the UK North Sea to reduce any barriers." The study consulted leading oil producers such as BP, ExxonMobil and TotalFinaElf, as well as power generators including PowerGen and Scottish Power.

Norwegian oil company Statoil already has the world's first commercial store of CO2 in sandstone 1000 metres beneath the North Sea (Sleipner project).

The European Union and the United States also back carbon sequestration techniques to fjosirt global warming, having signed a pact last year to undertake research.

The report concluded that it would be wrong to press ahead immediately with a full-scale demonstration of CO2-EOR. With the low level of interest shown by key stakeholders this would not be feasible. However, CO2-EOR does have advantages as a base for demonstrating CO2 capture and storage and is therefore deemed worthy of consideration over a longer timescale. This should be done as part of an overall strategy for the development of near to zero emissions fossil fuel technologies.

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