Developing a unified approach to qualifying CO2 storage sites

Paul Boughton
DNV is now developing a standard methodology for characterising, selecting and qualifying proper sites for geological storage of CO2 – both offshore and onshore.

This work is being carried out together with Norwegian authorities and more than 10 of the world’s key oil, gas and coal players.

Bold political will and industrial incentives are required to accelerate the deployment of options to mitigate climate change. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been highlighted as one of the key technologies that can help put the world on a ‘low-carbon’ diet.

Many pilot-scale and demo-scale projects are now underway around the world, and project developers are considering taking the next step and implementing large-scale CCS projects. However, for CCS to make a real impact on the carbon balance, more than a thousand large-scale projects must be implemented over the next couple of decades – so speed is of the essence.

A major challenge for the oil, gas and coal industries has been the lack of publicly available and recognised best practice guidelines. These should explain how to efficiently implement legal and regulatory frameworks, adopt concurrent best engineering practices, and how to manage the risks and uncertainties throughout the storage cycle.

In addition, the authorities and society at large must be confident that geological storage of CO2 is a trustworthy option for mitigating global warming. A common practice which stakeholders can accept therefore has several advantages. It will ensure that the geological storage of CO2 is implemented in a transparent and clear way, and that the benefits and risks are presented in a balanced and well communicated manner.

To speed up the transition from R&D and demos to large-scale CCS, the industry must ‘learn by doing’ through risk based qualification and verification processes. Current knowledge and experience gained from R&D and pilots must be converted into recommended practices and guidelines. In this way it will be possible to identify knowledge gaps and help prioritise further R&D.

DNV has now assembled key industry players and launched a joint industry project (JIP) to develop a standard methodology for characterising, selecting and qualifying proper sites for geological storage of CO2 – both offshore and onshore. This will provide guidance on how to establish permanent, safe and cost-efficient storage of CO2.

The JIP has attracted wide interest from the authorities and oil, gas and coal-fired power industries. In addition to DNV, the partners are so far Gassnova SF (responsible for managing the Norwegian state’s involvement in CCS activities), Gassco AS, IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, StatoilHydro, BP, Shell, Petrobras, RWE Dea, Schlumberger, Vattenfall AB, BG Group and DONG Energy. The JIP is open to new participants until the end of 2008.
The key to a successful CO2 storage project is appropriate selection criteria and a proper understanding of how to manage risks and geological uncertainties. The current JIP focuses on establishing a transparent, predictable and cost-effective site selection approach by:

* Providing guidance on the proper management of risks and geological uncertainties.
* Providing guidance in deploying concurrent best engineering practices
* Providing open references to ensure the confidence and trust of stakeholders and the public.
* Simplifying demonstrations of compliance with legal and regulatory. requirements in legislation, directives, conventions, etc, and harmonising implementation.
* Explaining how to obtain emission reduction credits.

The framework developed by the JIP should also provide a protocol with links to decision gates in field development projects to assist operators, authorities, verifiers and other stakeholders to:

* Define the desired storage site attributes, including the data and analysis requirements necessary to provide confidence that the storage site has the desired attributes.
* Assign and rank risks (and uncertainties) based on the available (and missing) data.
* Define an environmentally friendly and economically acceptable site operation procedure, including compliance with standards, legislation and applicable directives.
* Define requirements for a Monitoring, Verification, Accounting & Reporting (MVAR) programme, including requirements for mitigation and remediation plans.
* Manage storage sites in accordance with a transparent, consistent and cost-effective process that meets the expectations of the authorities, stakeholders and general public.

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