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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

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3rd International Methane and Nitrous Oxide Conference

By Clark Talkington, US EPA

The 3rd conference in this series was held in Beijing, China on 17th-21st November 2003. The conference was organised by the China Coal Information Centre and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The conference attracted nearly 300 delegates, approximately half of them from the host country. In total 29 difference countries were represented at the conference. The technical programme comprised a number of themes covering the following sectors:

  • Coal mining
  • Natural gas
  • Landfill
  • Agriculture

These sectors represent the main sources of anthropogenic emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. In addition, technical sessions were held on economic modelling and cross cutting issues. Overall, some 109 technical papers were presented as well as over 40 poster papers. The conference, provided an ideal opportunity for researchers and organisations working in similar areas in different parts of the world to meet, establish contacts and exchange ideas.

Dina Kruger, head of the US EPA Non-CO2 Gases and Sequestration Branch, summing up the conference, concluded that since the last conference (held in Novosibirsk, Russia in 2000) considerable progress had been made. Given the global warming potentials of both methane and nitrous oxide, actions taken to reduce emission of both gases can be cost-effective while providing significant near-term and long-term benefits for the global environment. Many new methane abatement projects were now underway in different regions of the world. These abatement projects cover a range of different emission sources. Good progress has also been made on research to develop greater understanding of agricultural emissions sources (both for methane and nitrous oxide) and potential ways of abating these emissions. For nitrous oxide, the principal emission sector was agriculture and more strenuous efforts are needed to research and develop mitigation options in this sector.

However, Dina emphasised that, despite the progress made, it was considered that further work was still needed. In particular, more demonstration projects were needed These demonstration projects must encompass the full range of technologies that need to be considered and should be distributed around the world to allow more regional cost data to be derived. Regional cost data on mitigation measures are very important to improve the economic modelling work that is now underway. Finally there was a need to maintain and expand the focus of these activities to raise awareness amongst stakeholders.
Several barriers were identified to the development of methane and nitrous oxide abatement technologies. The key barriers were considered to be:

  • Lack of knowledge and understanding of potential opportunities amongst industries, communities and policy makers.
  • Lack of funding for demonstration projects, particularly in the agricultural sector.

These barriers could be overcome by a more concerted dissemination of the results of demonstration projects and of the benefits of methane/nitrous oxide abatement to those concerned. Funding opportunities could result from greater awareness. The Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation, and the growing number of public and private trading programmes were hjosirljosirted during the conference as an ideal mechanisms to help support projects that deal with methane and nitrous oxide abatement in developing countries.

Following the success of this conference, it was agreed that a fourth conference in the series will be held in Spring 2006 (date and venue to be announced). This conference will aim to maintain the momentum established by earlier conferences. However, it was acknowledged that every opportunity should be taken to promote awareness of methane and nitrous oxide abatement opportunities to interested parties in between the third and fourth conferences.

Following the conference a series of technical tours were organised to allow delegates to witness methane abatement projects in action in China. The visits organised were to:

  • The Liuminying EcoFarm on the southern outskirts of Beijing where organic waste is converted into methane in a biogas plant and the gas utilised within the village complex.
  • The Beishenshu landfill site which is one of the largest urban landfills outside Beijing (of which there are 4 in total) which has an environmental monitoring and methane collection system operating.
  • The Yangquan Mining Group in Shanxi Province where methane is being drained as part of the group's mining activities at the Xinjing coalmine. A significant proportion of the methane is then utilised within the mining complex.

For further information on the methane and nitrous oxide conference contact Clark Talkington at the US EPA This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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RECOPOL: Underground Storage of CO2 in Coal Seams

By Frank van Bergen, NITG-TNO, the Netherlands

On the 8th of December 2003 the RECOPOL field site was officially opened. This field site is the first of its kind in Europe, and resulted from the combined efforts of the RECOPOL consortium within the framework of the RECOPOL project, co-funded by the European Commission. This project was launched in November 2001 to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of storing CO2 permanently in subsurface coal seams, while simultaneously producing methane gas. The project will investigate this type of storage under European conditions. An international consortium of research institutes, universities and industrial partners is carrying out the project activities. TNO-NITG is coordinating the consortium members, who are the Central Mining Institute (Poland), Aachen University of Technology (Germany), Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), the Institut Français du Petrol (France), CSIRO (Australia), DBI-GUT (Germany), Gaz de France (France), Gazonor (France), Air Liquide (France), Advanced Resources international (US) and the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme. The project is also supported by Shell International, JCoal, the Faculté Polytechnique de Mons and the Polish and Dutch governments.

This is the first field demonstration experiment of its kind to be performed outside north America. The location of the pilot site, in the Upper Silesian Basin in Poland, was selected at an early stage of the project. There are two wells, 375 m apart, on the pilot site. They have not been used for five years; before that time they were used for a short period to produce coalbed methane (CBM).

The development of the pilot site began in the summer of 2003. One of the CBM wells was cleaned up, repaired and put back into production. As RECOPOL is a research project it was possible to optimise the conditions in order to maximise the understanding of the sequestration process to be gained from the tests. A new injection well was drilled near the production well, instead of using the other old production well. Reservoir modelling showed that a distance of 150 m between the production well and an injection well would give the best chance of a CO2 breakthrough within the test period. The injection well was drilled, therefore, 150 m from the production well to a depth of 1,120 m. Once the well was completed with casing, cementing and perforations, the perforated zones were tested. A cross borehole seismic survey was carried out in September 2003. Activities in autumn 2003 included the construction of the injection facilities.

The opening on the 8th of December was attended by representatives of the consortium and by representatives of the Polish and local authorities. Preceding the official opening a presentation was given on the project's activities and goals, in Polish and English, followed by a short press conference. The site was officially opened by cutting a ribbon at the entrance gate of the site by Dr. Ing. Maks Klank, president of the Katowice Coal Company, on behalf of the Polish authorities and by Dr. Denis O'Brien, scientific manager of the Research Directorate-General, on behalf of the European Commission. The invitees and press were shown around the site; explanations were given at both the injection and the production sites. Production of coalbed methane started earlier that morning; this will provide baseline data before injection starts in 2004.

Injection and production will continue until the end of 2004. During the injection period the process will be monitored directly and indirectly. Two direct monitoring methods will be used: the concentration of CO2 will be measured in the production gas, in a nearby mine and at the surface via shallow (2 m) wells. The isotope signature of the CO2 in the production gas will also be monitored. Indirect monitoring will be done by ttime-lapse cross borehole seismic survey and by monitoring the composition of the production water.
Further activities in 2004 comprise continuation of field activities, laboratory experiments and a socio-economic evaluation of the project.

For further information, please contact Henk Pagnier This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.' or Frank van Bergen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.' or visit

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ECBM-CO2 in the Netherlands

By Harry Schreurs, Novem

A study conducted in 2001 for Novem (the Netherlands Organisation for Energy and the Environment) investigated the feasibility of simultaneous CO2 sequestration in subsurface coal and the enhanced production of coalbed methane (ECBM). This study concluded that "CO2 capture and disposal through ECBM is a promising option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands. ECBM is expected to be inherently safe and likely to become economically feasible; its CO2 storage potential is large". One of the key recommendations was to initiate a pilot project in order to gain necessary practical experience with ECBM production schemes, in particular with respect to drilling techniques. The south of the Dutch province of Limburg was selected as potential test area, based on the following three reasons:

In 2003, a follow-up study was performed for Novem. The goal of this new feasibility study was to perform an assessment of the technical, geological, economical and legal aspects involved in the development of CO2 storage with coalbed methane production in the Netherlands.

This has been done, based on current knowledge of ECBM (technology), by the following steps:

Selection of the best location in the area for a test site;

The main contractor for this project was TNO-NITG with subcontracts being allocated to the Department of Science, Technology and Society of Utrecht University (NWS) and the Energy Centre of the Netherlands (ECN).

The study gives an insjosirt into possibilities to develop this technology in the field, likely costs and benefits to be expected. Two things are prominent:

Although costs calculated are hjosirer than earlier expected, the results are more trustworthy as they are now based on a real site, inclusive of the environment.

The simultaneous injection of CO2 into coal and coalbed methane production (CO2-ECBM) combines fossil fuel production with CO2 storage. It must be emphasised that CO2-ECBM is not yet a well-established and mature technology and therefore, like any field experiment, there will be some inevitable uncertainties and risks. However, the advantages of injecting CO2 into coalbeds could be numerous: it sequesters the CO2; it shortens the production time for CBM; and it improves the recovery of CBM (therefore Enhanced CBM production). To date, only a few experimental ECBM/CO2 field sites have been realised

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Workshop on "CO2 Capture and Geological Storage: Contributing to Climate Change Solutions"

IPIECA organised a hjosir-level international two day workshop in Brussels, 21st-22nd October, which brought together 90 representatives from academia, business, governments, intergovernmental and non- governmental organisations to consider CO2 capture and geological storage as a potential option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Workshop's aim was to advance understanding of the role of CO2 capture and geological storage, and strategies to improve its performance and prospects. Workshop Sessions examined:

1) Roles that CO2 capture and geological storage may play over the next century extending from the current assessment of this technology family
2) Risk management to ensure safe and secure geological storage drawing from understanding and past experiences
3) Public perception, policy and regulatory frameworks that form opportunities and barriers for CO2 capture and geological storage
4) Initiatives and strategies to advance CO2 capture and geological storage by reducing cost and risk, and develop sound regulatory and policy frameworks to encourage development of an acceptable option for deep reductions in CO2 emissions

IPIECA represents the integrated petroleum industry on key global environmental issues, and has been working specifically on climate change issues since 1988. IPIECA's members include over twenty of the largest multi-national oil and gas companies and a dozen regional petroleum industry associations.

The presentations made at the Workshop are now available on the Climate Change area of the IPIECA website A summary brochure, hjosirljosirting the key themes and messages emerging from the Workshop will be available from IPIECA in future. The Summary Brochure will include a CD ROM containing all 22 speakers' unedited presentations.

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Long Term Performance of Geological Storage of CO2

By David Savage Steven Benbow, Philip Maul, (Quintessa Limited,UK), and James B. Riding (British Geological Survey)

A workshop on the development of a generic Features, Events and Processes (FEP) database pertaining to the geological storage of CO2 was held at the headquarters of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) in Copenhagen, Denmark on 26th November 2003. The workshop preceded a 2-day Weyburn CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project technical meeting. The authors convened the workshop in order to review and edit the FEP database, and to enable interaction between the partners of this European Commission-part funded CO2 project on the potential uses of the database. This meeting followed two previous workshops: the first of these was on the identification of key FEPs for the geological storage of CO2 in Rome, Italy in January 2002; the second was on scenarios for risk assessment held in Orléans, France in March 2003 (Savage et al., 2003).

Fifteen researchers from the UK, Denmark, France and Italy reviewed the structure and content of the FEP database. The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) database for radioactive waste (NEA/ Organisation for Economic Development - OECD, 2000) provided the inspiration for this database, although the aims and content of the database have developed significantly from the original model. The FEPs chosen have been included for their relevance to the long-term safety and performance of the storage system after injection of carbon dioxide has ceased and the injection boreholes have been sealed. However, some FEPs associated with the injection phase are considered where these could affect the long-term performance and initial conditions of the system. The database now includes around 200 FEPs in a hierarchical structure, with FEPs grouped into categories such as 'assessment basis', 'external factors' and 'boreholes'. Each FEP has a text description and a discussion of its relevance to performance and safety. Key references in the published literature are included to enable retrieval of more detailed information for each FEP. The database can be accessed online and incorporates hyperlinks to other relevant sources of information (reports, websites, maps, photographs, videos, etc.).

Like the NEA model, this FEP database can be used as an audit tool to evaluate the completeness of performance assessment models. An example of a conceptual approach to a generic systems-level model was used at the workshop to illustrate how this could be done. Experience gained with the audit of this model, with many of the key processes illustrated in Figure 1, has proved valuable in developing the structure of the FEP database. This database has potentially wider applicability, for example as a 'knowledge base' for the geological storage of CO2. Information can be retrieved using the database's search facilities. The database also has the capability to link to project-specific databases, providing the capability to demonstrate how generically- important FEPs are represented in a specific assessment; this is termed 'FEP mapping'.

The Weyburn CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project (Jazrawi, 2002; weyburn5.htm) is evaluating a large-scale demonstration of CO2 injection in a commercial enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operation, and developing a range of novel monitoring and tracking techniques for understanding CO2 movement in a carbonate reservoir. This project is partially funded by the European Commission and J. B. Riding publishes with the permission of the Executive Director, British Geological Survey (NERC).

Nuclear Energy Authority/Organisation for Economic Development 2000. Features, Events and Processes (FEPs) for Geologic Disposal of Radioactive Waste. Nuclear Energy Agency/Organisation for Economic Development, Paris, France.
Jazrawi, W. 2002. Monitoring CO2 injection at Weyburn. Greenhouse Issues, number 61.
Savage, D., Riding, J. B., Pearce, J. M. and Czernichowski-Lauriol, I. 2003. Workshop on CO2 scenarios. Greenhouse Issues, number 66.

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Producing Hydrogen from Natural Gas

In December 2003, HTC Hydrogen Thermochem Corp. and the University of Regina, Canada, entered into a three-year collaborative research agreement to study the cost-effective production of hydrogen from natural The focus is on production at an end-user's site. HTC President and CFO, Jeff Allison, said the three-year agreement marks a milestone for the company. "We're excited about combining our resources with those of the University," he said. "The opportunity to work with the physical and intellectual resources at the International Test Centre for CO2 Capture means true collaboration - academically and financially - between a university and a private corporation to achieve an environmentally friendly alternative fuel." Allison added, "The potential for hydrogen fuel to play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions has captured global interest. When hydrogen burns it produces large amounts of energy, emitting only water vapor as an emission. Developing an economical source of commercially available hydrogen, and the means to deliver it to market, have been cited as the two major roadblocks to its development as an alternative fuel."

The funding for this research has been provided by a broad-base of provincial, national and international investors. For more information contact: Jeff Allison, President and CFO, HTC Hydrogen Thermochem Corp. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Carbon Disclosure Project

A group of 87 institutional investors, with more than $9 trillion-worth of assets under management, wrote to 500 of the world's largest quoted companies, asking for information concerning their greenhouse gas emissions.

The first time this was done (in May 2002) 245 companies responded. The results can be seen on the web site In November 2003, a second survey was conducted involving a larger group of investors. Companies that previously provided responses were invited to report progress. Companies that previously did not respond were requested to do so.

Commenting on the request, Paul Dickinson, the project coordinator, said: "There are potential business risks and opportunities related to actions stemming from climate change that have implications for the value of shareholdings in corporations worldwide. Examples of such actions are political and regulatory momentum moving against significant carbon emitters; emissions-sensitive technologies, products and services superseding those existing today; and shifts in consumer sentiment due to a corporation's stance on climate change. This suggests it is time for shareholders to improve their understanding of climate change risks and opportunities. The data to assess these issues are not always available, sometimes lack comparability or are of poor quality. This exercise is aimed at encouraging the development of a common emissions measurement methodology and to facilitate its integration into general investment analysis. The signatories recognise the pressure companies face from constant demands for information, and have joined in this single call for information to streamline the requests."

The information will be compiled into a thematic report by Innovest Strategic Value Advisers. The report will be distributed to participating shareholding institutions and responding companies, and made publicly available at from May 2004. All submitted data authorised for publication will also be available on the web site. This initiative has been coordinated by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a special project of the Philanthropic Collaborative of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York.

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