Unlocking the North Sea’s CO2 storage potential: unique study reveals benefit of ‘multiple user’ storage sites

Unlocking the North Sea’s CO2 storage potential: unique study reveals benefit of ‘multiple user’ storage sites

Source: SCCS

The secure and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) within a single geological storage formation can be optimised by injecting CO2 at more than one point simultaneously, according to results from an innovative study of rocks beneath the UK North Sea.

The findings could help to unlock an immense CO2 storage resource underlying all sectors of the North Sea for the storage of Europe’s carbon emissions, and will inform the work of those managing and operating this natural asset.

The process of storing CO2 captured from power plants and industrial facilities in deep geological formations is known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and is a key technological solution for meeting climate change targets over the coming decades.

The research by scientists and prospective site operators has used a UK North Sea case study – the Captain Sandstone – to predict the performance of a potential CO2 storage formation when the greenhouse gas is injected at two points at the same time over three decades.

The study’s conclusions will help to increase confidence among regulators and investors in the secure containment of CO2 within “multiple user” storage formations.

The work has informed how the UK can plan and manage subsurface geological CO2 storage, and design CO2 injection at more than one location by looking at regional-scale performance of an entire geological formation. It is an important step in the gradual process of developing the UK’s vast CO2 storage potential, which has been estimated at 78 billion tonnes [1].

The findings also suggest that the Captain Sandstone, which lies more than a mile beneath the Moray Firth off north east Scotland, could securely store at least 360 Million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 in just one sixth of its area when CO2 is injected at a rate of between 6 and 12 Mt per year over three decades. As a comparison, 360Mt is the amount of CO2 emitted by Scotland’s energy supply sector over 23 years [2].

Researchers on the CO2MultiStore joint industry project used cutting-edge methods, which will, in future, reduce the effort and resources needed to characterise other extensive storage sandstones that could be suitable for CO2 storage. As a result, generic learning from the project will be of considerable value to prospective site operators worldwide.

Download report and watch animation: http://www.sccs.org.uk/expertise/reports/co2multistore-joint-industry-project