– THIS IS A
typical interdisciplinary research project in which we attempt to find out what
happens during the injection of large volumes of CO2 into a storage site,” says
Sarah Gasda, project manager at Uni Research CIPR in Bergen.
been joined by mathematicians, geochemists, geologists and other experts, and
have conducted laboratory studies, modelling and simulations. Even if we have
previous experience from CO2 storage in the North Sea, from Sleipner, for
example, what we are talking about now is of a completely different magnitude,”
The storage potential in the North Sea is enormous.
Probably several tens of billions of tonnes of CO2 – enough to meet the needs
of all of Europe for many, many years to come.
challenge is the fact that the continuous injection of large volumes of CO2
will change the pressure in the reservoir,
and then we must know how the pressure will be distributed and what will happen
with the cap rock,” says Gasda.
There is no
other way of finding this out than by conducting research, collecting as much
data as possible on all conceivable parameters, and then building simulation
models based on that data. This is precisely what PROTECT is about. The project
has received core samples of caprock from Equinor and studies the rock’s
ability to withstand various types of stress.
what happens on a small-scale basis– from a metre down to centimetres – are
scaled up to create a model of what can occur in an entire reservoir.
of rock are subject to natural movements, cracks and faults that may be
affected by pressure. Chemical and thermal processes can also affect the caprock.
The purpose of the project is to understand how pressure changes can affect the
storage complex. This knowledge is important for good reservoir management and
secure storage,” says Gasda.
stresses that any leaks from the CO2 storage sites will not be harmful to
humans or nature. “CO2 is neither toxic
nor explosive, and there are already substantial natural ‘leaks’ of CO2 from
the ocean floor.
storage is primarily about efficiency and economics. If we are paid to store a million tonnes of
CO2 and 10 per cent leaks out again, it is not good for business,” she says.
already conducted fullscale simulations of what will happen during 25 years of
injection into the Utsira formation. The results show that the formation has a
substantial capacity for the secure storage of CO2. However, models are just
why the full-scale project is so important. We can not go all the way through
simulations and models. In the final analysis, we need data from real projects
order to determine with certainty how this will work in practice,” says Gasda.