Geological storage operations worldwide

Different large scale CO2 geological storage operations have already been undertaken or are under way.

The first operation was launched in 1996 at the Sleipner site, in the North Sea, where, since that date, the Norwegian company Statoil injects 1 million tons each year of CO2 separated from natural gas in a saline aquifer located at a depth of 1000 m below the sea floor. In 2001, a pilot project combining CO2 storage with EOR was initiated at the Weyburn oil field in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The CO2 injected comes from a coal gasification plant in North Dakota (USA) from where 5000 tons of CO2 flow daily through a 330 km long, cross-border pipeline.

Injection of CO2 in coal seams has also been tested. A demonstration pilot plant has been tested in Poland, within the framework of the Recopol project. An industrial CO2 storage project has been operated since 2004 by BP, Sonatrach and Statoil at In Salah, in Algeria, where 1 million tons of CO2 per year are being injected into a deeper part of the same geological layer that contains the gas which is produced.

Numerous EOR projects involving CO2 injection are being investigated worldwide. Many such projects operate or are launched in the USA where 70 such projects exist already. New projects are also being investigated in Europe. In the north of Scotland, BP has been investigating the injection of 1.3 million tons of CO2 per year produced by a 350 MW power plant located at Peterhead in northeast Scotland.

The project involved the production of a mixture of hydrogen and CO2 from natural gas, the hydrogen thus produced being used in a combined cycle after separation of CO2 but, presently, it is delayed or it may perhaps even be cancelled.

Shell and Statoil are investigating an EOR project involving the injection in the Norwegian field of Draugen of 2.5 million tons of CO2 recovered from a gas-fired 860 MW power plant.

In Germany, electricity producers have announced their intention to build pilot plants and demonstration units for validating the application of CCS to coal-fired power plants. The Vattenfall Company is building a 30 MW pilot plant for testing oxy-fuel combustion in the 'Schwarze Pumpe' industrial zone on the Brandenburg/Saxony border. Other electricity producers such as RWE and E.ON have also announced their intention to build demonstration units.

Research and development programmes are needed to develop safer and more cost-effective CCS installations.

The main obstacles arise from economics: CCS costs are presently around 50 D per ton of avoided CO2. Further cost reductions are required in order to ensure CCS deployment.

It is also essential to demonstrate the safety and reliability of geological storage over very long periods of time (centuries or even thousands of years). For that purpose, it is necessary to improve the knowledge of CO2 behaviour in geological reservoirs.

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