Date and Time
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN
Underground storage of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel combustion and other industrial processes offers the most credible way of achieving the deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions agreed at last year’s COP-21 climate change conference in Paris.
The regulatory framework for underground CO2 storage has been set up via a European Directive. In this there is a regulatory requirement to prove that storage sites are not leaking, that their current behaviour is understood, and that stored CO2 will continue to be contained in the long term. Time-lapse monitoring at storage sites, using geophysical and geochemical techniques provides the means by which these quite challenging objectives can be met.
Industrial-scale CO2 injection has been in operation at the Sleipner gas field in the Norwegian North Sea since 1996, with more than 16 million tonnes of CO2 now stored. A comprehensive time-lapse monitoring programme has been carried out, with a series of 3D seismic surveys providing strikingly clear images of the CO2 plume in the storage reservoir and its progressive spreading and growth with time. These can be matched with numerical fluid flow models to demonstrate that subsurface processes are well understood.
Other monitoring datasets from storage sites worldwide also provide robust indication that we do understand the key physical processes controlling the behaviour of stored CO2 and that longer-term predictions of storage site performance are likely to be reliable.
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