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Carbon Capture and Storage: What Are the Big Issues and Opportunities Facing the Petroleum Industry?

John Kaldi
Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies, Australian School of Petroleum, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, currently supply around 85 per cent of the world’s energy needs, and according to predictions by the International Energy Agency, will continue to do so for many years to come. However, the burning of fossil fuels is a major source of CO2, the gas most blamed for the increased concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Such GHG build-ups are linked to rapid, human-induced climate change, leading to growing public demand for reduction of atmospheric GHG emissions. This applies especially to the developing economies of the Asia Pacific region. Besides the power plants, significant additional CO2 is emitted from production and separation of large CO2 - rich oil and gas accumulations typifying many giant Asia Pacific gas fields. In all likelihood, environmental and regulatory constraints will be in place prior to the development of those fields and economics associated with carbon management need to be considered.

This talk addresses the various technologies for GHG reduction but focuses mainly on geosequestration, Geosequestration, also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), involves the long-term storage of captured CO2 emissions in subsurface geologic formations. Geosequestration comprises a number of steps: first, the CO2 is captured at the source, where this can be a power plant or gas production facility; the captured CO2 is then transported, typically via pipeline, from the source to the geologic storage site; next, the CO2 is injected via conventional wells into the geologic reservoir; and, finally, the CO2 is stored in the geologic reservoir, where its movement is carefully monitored and the quantity stored is regularly verified. Commercial-scale geosequestration projects already exist in several places around the world (Statoil’s Sleipner Field; BP/Sonatrach/Statoil’s In Salah Field, and Encana’s Weyburn Field).

The main geological conditions for the geosequestration of CO2 include many of the same requirements as for a hydrocarbon prospect: a porous and permeable reservoir rock, a trap, and an impermeable caprock. Expertise in locating such formations is well established within the petroleum industry, and CCS geoscientists and engineers utilise existing technology to identify and assess specific sites for geosequestration. Each site is evaluated for its potential storage volume as well as to ensure that conditions for safe and effective long-term containment are present.

Presentation GEO India Expo XXI, Noida, New Delhi, India 2008©AAPG Search and Discovery