CO2CRC is Australia’s leading carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) research organisation
CO2CRC INSIGHTS | November 2020
  • Investment: Successful field trial of Santos' Moomba CCS project

  • Policy: Australia and Singapore announce new collaboration on technology-led emissions reduction

  • Investment: Companies announce further investment in hydrogen/CCS project in Humber region of UK

  • Investment: Microsoft and Amazon announce major CCS initiatives 

  • Investment: A Colorado cement plant announces plans to pilot CCS technologies

  • Investment: Energy majors announce North Sea CCS partnership 

  • Research: New report calls on California to take the lead on CCS 

  • Policy: Planned Southwest US CCUS project would be largest of its kind in the world

  • Investment: Norwegian carbon capture firm partners with major European utilities operator

  • FEATURE: Stage 3 Project is ‘science ready’ for world’s first application of innovative monitoring technique for CO2 storage
Investment: Successful field trial of Santos' Moomba CCS project
 
Santos has announced that it has successfully injected 100 tonnes of CO2 into a depleted gas reservoir in the Cooper Basin. This represents the final field trial for the Moomba CCS Project.
 
The Cooper Basin is an established source of natural gas, and Santos has plans for further expansion of gas projects in the area. The Moomba CCS project benefits from both its proximity to gas projects, and to suitable geological sites for carbon storage.
 
As Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher states, the company is waiting for policy details from Canberra before a final investment decision can be made. The proposed Moomba CCS project costs are around $30 a tonne, but could get below $20 a tonne; however Mr Gallagher states that certainty around the value of carbon credits will be required before scaling up the project.
Policy: Australia and Singapore announce new collaboration on technology-led emissions reduction
 
The governments of Singapore and Australia have signed a new memorandum of understanding to promote collaboration on reducing emissions. The agreement includes a specific focus on hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage.
 
Australian Energy and Emissions Reductions Minister Angus Taylor stated that  “Technological progress is the only way to reduce emissions while continuing to grow our economies and maintain reliable and affordable energy.” 
 
The new agreement adds to Australia's existing cooperative arrangements on emissions reductions with Japan, Korea and Germany.
Investment: Companies announce further investment in hydrogen/CCS project in Humber region of UK
 
The Zero Carbon Humber Partnership has submitted a proposal to the UK government to construct the world's largest gas-to-hydrogen plant, complete with CCS capability. Once operational, the Hydrogen to Humber Saltend project - led by Equinor - will reduce emissions by 900 thousand tonnes per year.
 
A key element of the project is a network of pipelines to other industrial facilities in the region, providing the opportunity to switch their fuel source to hydrogen, as well as capture their own CO2 emissions for storage.
 
As noted by Grete Tveit, Equinor Senior Vice-President for low carbon solutions, “The technologies are proven and it’s now a question of putting them together.”
Investment: Microsoft and Amazon announce major CCS initiatives
 
Earlier this year, both Amazon and Microsoft made ambitious emissions reduction pledges. In recent weeks, both companies have committed to carbon capture projects that will contribute to these goals.
 
Both companies have invested in Canadian concrete maker CarbonCure, which plans to both capture carbon emissions from its cement making operations and inject captured carbon into the concrete it manufactures.
 
Microsoft has also signed an MoU with Equinor, which leads the Northern Lights CCS project in Norway. Microsoft will contribute its technology and know-how and explore solutions that aim to enable Microsoft to become carbon negative by 2050.
Investment: A Colorado cement plant announces plans to pilot CCS technologies
 
A cement plant operated by Swiss company Lafarge-Holcim has secured a USD1.5 million federal grant to develop a carbon capture system. The pilot project, if successful, could represent the first commercial-scale carbon capture project on a cement plant in the United Sates.
 
Once at full-scale, the system will reduce CO2 emissions from the plant by as much as 700,000 tonnes per year.
 
Colorado was selected as a suitable location for the project partly because the nearby oil fields - where operators are already pumping CO2 into oil wells to increase recovery rates - provide a ready market for utilisation of captured CO2
Investment: Energy majors announce North Sea CCS partnership
 
Energy majors BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total as well as the UK National Grid have announced a cooperative CCS project to be undertaken in the North Sea. The partners have submitted a proposal for funding from the UK government's Industrial Decarbonisation initiative.
 
The Northern Endurance partnership will develop CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, taking advantage of saline aquifers that have already been investigated for suitability for CCS.
 
BP will act as project lead, and the infrastructure will support the decarbonisation efforts of both the Humber and Teeside regions.
Research: New report calls on California to take the lead on CCS
 
A new research report released by researchers at Stanford University and the Energy Futures Initiative concludes that California is well placed to lead US CCS efforts.
 
The authors underline the key role that CCS should play in decarbonisation and recommends a suite of policy options that could help drive development and deployment of CCS technologies.
 
The report identifies 76 current energy generation facilities - representing 15% of state carbon emissions - that are suitable for CCS retrofitting.
Policy: Planned Southwest US CCUS project would be largest of its kind in the world
 
A major coal-fired power plant in the US state of New Mexico may be given a new lease on life with the addition of CCUS systems, a US Department of Energy (DOE) official announced in October. It is hoped that the project will help make the case for scaled up CCUS projects elsewhere in the US and around the world.
 
The DOE released a report on the issue last month, which concluded that the mooted project would support more jobs than if the plant were decommissioned and replaced with gas-fed generation.
 
The project is well positioned near pipeline networks that could potentially carry recovered CO2 for use to promote recovery rates in adjoining oilfields.
Investment: Norwegian carbon capture firm partners with major European utilities operator
 
Aker Carbon Capture has announced a new partnership with Sweden's Vattenfall to develop large-scale CCS plants at bio-energy and waste facilities throughout Europe.
 
Vattenfall had previously explored CCS as early as 2008; and sees the Aker partnership as helping it achieve its carbon-negative ambitions.
 
The partnership plans to explore opportunities facilitated by the Norwegian government-supported Longship project, which will provide carbon capture and transport infrastructure.
FEATURE: Stage 3 Project is ‘science ready’ for world’s first application of innovative monitoring technique for CO2 storage
The Otway Stage 3 Project team is gearing up for the start of the CO2 injection phase at the end of this month. From November to April 2021, fifteen thousand tonnes of CO2-rich gas from the Buttress well will be injected into the subsurface beneath the Otway National Research Facility in a phased operation.  Then, over the next 18 months, a number of innovative and cost-effective techniques will be trialled to monitor the location, movement and, ultimately, the stabilisation of the CO2 plume.

One of the innovative techniques being explored is active pressure tomography, a technique which shows great potential in the development of lower cost monitoring solutions suitable to the offshore environment.

In a world first, CO2CRC will demonstrate pressure tomography on a CO2 plume to test the range and sensitivity of the technique to imaging a plume’s distribution. With downhole pressure gauges acquiring data continuously, the pressure data obtained from each survey performed will be analysed to produce an image of the CO2 plume in the subsurface. CO2CRC’s research partner, CSIRO, developed the fundamental equations for calculating how pressure signals can be used to determine the distribution of the injected gaseous CO2. One of the key benefits for industry is that the acquisition of pressure data is already done routinely with durable low-cost instruments in onshore and offshore environments. It therefore provides a novel, low-risk monitoring option.

Active pressure tomography involves the injection of fluid (in this case brine) into a subsurface well, creating a pressure signal which moves through the formation. Under the Otway Stage 3 Project, the pressure signal will be tracked at the nearby recently installed CRC 4,5,6 and 7 monitoring wells. The pressure signal gives information about the formation thickness, the reservoir fluids (brine, CO2) and the permeability and porosity of the storage formation. Through sequential injections at each well and continuous monitoring, a ‘tomographic image’ can be built up of the formation properties.

A baseline must first be established through a set of water injections that provide an understanding of the properties of the formation and how the physical and chemical properties of the rock interact with fluids (e.g. porosity, permeability). Understanding this prior to CO2 injection means that further water injections after CO2 injection will pick up the differences in these properties which can be used to map the location of the CO2 plume. The quality of imaging obtained depends on the signal-to-noise ratio of the pressure measurements, the geometrical arrangement and number of wells, and the extent to which variations in permeability affect how the pressure pulse travels through the formation.

To create an accurate baseline prior to the CO2 injection, two sets of water injections have been completed. Instrumentation installed in the monitoring wells is continuously acquiring highly sensitive surface and subsurface pressure data to further improve the baseline information.

The second monitoring solution CO2CRC is investigating as part of the Stage 3 Project is downhole seismic monitoring using a configuration of well-based distributed acoustic sensors (DAS) and permanently deployed above ground seismic sources (known as surface orbital vibrators or SOV’s). This provides an alternative or complementary monitoring method to traditional seismic surveys that use mobile above ground sources, like trucks onshore or ships offshore, to create the seismic signal. The novelty of this approach is that downhole seismic monitoring combined with stationary sources provides an on-demand, permanent monitoring solution, enabling continuous plume data acquisition, transmission, and analysis. Data processing times can be cut from months to days and the need for long regulatory permitting processes associated with traditional seismic surveys is dramatically reduced.

For commercial-scale CCS projects, successful application of these innovative CO2 monitoring techniques is likely to translate into lower costs, higher quality of information and a smaller environmental footprint. Proving and refining the readiness of these technologies and techniques for direct application in industry is fundamental to CO2CRC’s purpose.
To learn more about CO2CRC’s Otway Stage 3 Project click here.
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