IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme


Technology innovation that can enhance the monitoring of CO2 in the subsurface explained at the US DOE Carbon Storage Meeting

James-Craig cropThe US DOE annual Carbon Storage Review meeting, held in Pittsburgh 1-3 August, included presentations on the latest technology innovations currently under development in the country. One of the challenges of secure subsurface storage is the ability to track CO2 in deep reservoirs. Fibre-optic distributed acoustic sensors (DAS) are attracting increasing interest as a reliable medium for detecting subtle changes in reservoirs. The technology has been deployed and tested at CO2 storage sites and there is evidence that it could become a promising means of monitoring.

DAS works by responding to external pressure from a seismic source acting on the fibre that then induces a back-scattering effect. This response can be translated into a strain measurement that can be correlated with wave forms detected by conventional geophones. DAS generated signals have now been successfully correlated with vertical seismic profiles (VSPs) using arrays of geophones suspended in a wellbore. One key advantage of fibre optic systems that has become evident from field deployment is their durability. These systems are robust and have remained intact even after 5 years in the ground. The technology has now reached a stage where it is being commercialised. Helical configurations of fibres will improve the sensitivity of system and therefore signal quality and seismic images.

DAS, and other monitoring techniques, are run prior to CO2 injection into reservoirs to generate a base-line image. CO2 is then injected into the subsurface and tracked by running repeat surveys. Time-lapse and cross-well comparisons between base-line conditions and later surveys can provide evidence of CO2 distribution within reservoirs. Future research is planned to analyse different forms of shear-wave and heat pulse monitoring. These advances should lead to enhanced seismic images especially in deep reservoirs where conventional seismic techniques can be less effective.


Offshore Storage Potential Presented at US DOE Carbon Storage Meeting

TD 2The US DOE held its annual Carbon Storage Review meeting in Pittsburgh 1-3 August. This is always an interesting meeting because all the CCUS R,D&D projects funded by the US DOE have to present and be reviewed, and was attended by some 250 participants. This year was even more interesting because of the sixteen CarbonSAFE integrated projects being presented for the first time. The $44m worth of projects will be reported in a separate report/blog. The US has relatively recently developed interest in offshore CCS, and this meeting saw seven projects being presented.

The four projects funded to undertake offshore storage assessments presented their work and results so far. These were the Northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) (UT), the Mid-Atlantic (Battelle), the Southeast (GoM and Atlantic) (Southern States Energy Board), and the Ship Shoal (GoM) (Geomechanics Technologies Ic).The projects are covering both sandstone and carbonate reservoirs, have acquired existing data, for example from BOEM, and some have acquired new data such as high resolution seismic. In addition, another project presented on a high-level assessment of storage in GoM in depleting oil and gas reservoirs (NITEC LLC). Each project found large potential storage capacities in their areas, in the many millions of tonnes scale. The high-level study found in the Federal waters in GoM around 4000 Mt CO2 storage capacity in depleted oil and gas fields.

In addition, the CarbonSAFE initiative is funding two offshore assessments in the Phase 1 (pre-feasibility) stage. Cascadia Basin (basalts) (University of Columbia) and Northwest GoM (UT). The Cascadia project is interesting because of its unique storage geology and hence trapping mechanisms by dissolution in water and subsequent mineralisation, all at a deep water location 2600m deep, and potentially transboundary with Canada’s British Columbia. The GoM project is interesting because of the proximity of many large-scale CO2 sources and transport infrastructure options to potential storage sites close by offshore.

Five of these seven projects had presented at the 2nd Offshore workshop in Beaumont Texas in June, possibly the first time an international audience had seen these projects. In conclusion, the USA is quickly gaining knowledge on its considerable potential for offshore storage. This was assisted by hosting the 2nd International Workshop on Offshore CCS in June (see my blog of the 22 June) learning from other countries. When the USA acts, there is no doubt over the quick progress made. Watch this space!


CCS Measuring, Monitoring & Verification (MMV) – Engagement Day, NOC, Southampton 17th July 2017

Secure retention of CO2 in offshore storage sites will depend on reliable measuring, monitoring and verification (MMV) to ensure that any unplanned releases can be detected. The marine environment also needs to be characterised so that potential changes caused by a release of CO2 can be distinguished from natural variability. The Energy Technologies Institute have supported a £5M project to build and demonstrate a MMV system that can meet the demanding technical and legislative requirements for offshore conditions. A consortium of companies and organisations led by Sonardyne in partnership with Fugro and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, plus associated research contributions from the University of Southampton, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the British Geological Survey have developed a sensor payload for Autosub Long Range (ALR), a long endurance autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). ALR, also known as “Boaty McBoatFace”, has just completed sea trials off the east coast of the UK in the North Sea. It was towed out from the Yorkshire sea-side town of Bridlington to a test site where it was exposed to a subsea release of CO2.

This AUV and its sensing systems has been optimised for an operational window in marine environments of water depths up to 200m, operating at distances of 25 - 150miles (40 – 240km) from land and being capable of surveying the seabed and the water column across a storage complex in one or two deployments.

It can also operate autonomously for in excess of 10 days which avoids the cost of using an expensive survey ship. The AUV is equipped with an array of physical and chemical sensors together with a state of the art multi-aperture side scan sonar that can detect releases of CO2. The ALR’s on-board computer systems provide real-time data analysis and an interpretation capability to enable leaks from CO2 storage sites to be discriminated from other seabed emissions. The suite of physical and chemical sensors can map natural variability in seawater composition and pick out the difference between natural variability and non-biological driven changes that might indicate a leak. The multi-aperture side scan sonar runs an automated target recognition (ATR) algorithm in real time on the sonar data and has been shown to distinguish between a CO2 plume and other features such as a shoal of fish or a ship’s wake.

IMG 8407The offshore sea trials, led by Fugro, involved towing the ALR 12km off the coast of Bridlington. CO2 was deliberately released, supplied by a bank of cylinders placed on the sea floor and two different survey patterns were conducted: a Wide Area Survey (WAS) over a large area to demonstrate baseline survey; and a Fine Area Survey (FAS) covering 500m x 150m box within the immediate vicinity of the release point. The ALR travelled around 400km during the demonstration with a coverage of some 60km2. This North Sea demonstration has shown that that the ALR can be controlled and tracked along a predetermined survey path, being operated from shore (from Southampton) over a period of days with no support vessel on-site, all of the sensor and operational data being communicated back to shore using satellite communications to secure servers. This data was then made available on the Internet using Fugro’s METIS package, showing chemical heat maps, AUV tracks, sonar detections and sonar imagery.

The project has also tested static lander systems that are deployed to the sea floor and can record physical and chemical parameters within their immediate vicinity. These systems can be deployed near sites such as well heads where potential leakage could occur. These have used Sonardyne underwater acoustic communications to transfer data to a surface asset and onwards to the Internet via satellite communications.

The conclusions that can be drawn from the chemical detection system on ALR and landers demonstrate that:
• This state-of-the-art chemical and sonar sensor system on both the landers and the ALR have demonstrated good performance and reliability.
• The lander with chemical sensors has been shown to be effective in detecting small leaks from nearby targets.
• The automatic target recognition algorithm for the multi-aperture side scan sonar was successful in detecting small leaks in real time.
• Chemical sensors mounted in a moving vehicle can be an effective tool where CO2 is released in the dissolved phase and for larger leaks.


Boundary Dam Visit during IEAGHG’s Summer School

Lydia webLast week I was lucky enough to visit my first ever CCS site whilst attending the IEAGHG Summer School. SaskPower hosted the students for a day at Boundary Dam which included a visit to the Shand testing facilities and Aquistore storage site. For me this trip was a particular highlight of the week as I was able to finally see all the research behind CCS being put into action. I feel it has given me a better standing to talk to people and spread the word of CCS, knowing I have seen all of the CCS technologies utilised successfully and seen for myself that these technologies really can work.

We were given a full tour of the Boundary Dam facilities with an introduction to power generation and an explanation of the capture plant technologies. As a geologist it was a great experience for me develop my understanding of capture technologies and better understand the processes behind amine solution capture. I would particularly like to thank the SaskPower team for answering all of the student’s questions, especially on the basics of chemical engineering!

Having heard lots about the Aquistore site it was exciting to see all the monitoring equipment in operation, especially having heard about their fibre optic arrays and GPS monitoring systems at various conferences and meetings. Thank you to PTRC for the tour and great to hear 81,000 tonnes have been safely stored.


2nd Offshore Workshop

New TD 2The 2nd international workshop on offshore CCS was held in Beaumont Texas, 19-20 June. This was hosted by Lamar University and the BEG, and attracted 50 attendees from 9 countries to discuss developments for offshore transport and geological storage. It build on the conclusions and recommendations from the first workshop in 2016, continued the theme of ‘how to do’, and had sessions on how to find storage, monitoring developments, CO2-EOR potential offshore, and infrastructure options, with presentations from Norway, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa and Japan. New to all attendees were presentations on the US projects looking at offshore storage in the sedimentary basins in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and in basalts in the northern Pacific. Conclusions and recommendations were agreed, with a certain focus on infrastructure issues, these included to engage with operators of offshore infrastructure to make them aware of the opportunities from CCS and CO2-EOR.

Group photoThe workshop continued with a field trip to look at all the elements of an integrated CCS project: a large CO2 source at the Air Products capture project in Port Arthur, CO2 transport options including Denbury’s Green pipe and CO2 hub potential, and the geology for a potential storage site offshore, all of these being in close proximity in this part of south eastern Texas. The workshop concluded with meeting local dignitaries for an appreciation of the local industrial heritage. Beaumont was the location for ‘Spindletop’, the first large-scale oil find in the region which prompted the Gulf Coast oil boom and creation of many famous companies such as Texaco and Gulf Oil, and the resultant high density of refineries still to this day in the area. Initial feedback from international attendees was that the combination of the workshop and such a relevant field trip was extremely interesting for all.

The workshop came about to address a recommendation from the CSLF on offshore CCS, and with great timing the previous week the US DOE had issued an opportunity for funding for an offshore CCS partnership, which will enable progress to be continued in developing offshore CCS in the USA.

IEAGHG contributed to the organisation of the workshop as chair of the International Steering Committee, and will publish the report of the workshop. Following a phrase from the 1st workshop, a ‘deep dive’ into offshore CCS was certainly achieved with the second.


Monitoring Network meeting in Traverse City

New TD 2The 12th Monitoring Network meeting concluded on Thursday 15 June after three days of the latest updates on monitoring technology developments and applications, healthy discussions, a group exercise, and a field trip to the MRCSP project. Many thanks to Battelle and Core Energy for hosting the meeting. It was so clear how monitoring has advanced and is evolving from the early R&D projects to application now at commercial-scale projects. The learning and experiences from the early projects has enabled more refined, optimised and reduced level of monitoring at larger projects, resulting in more cost-effective monitoring overall. This was seen from the SECARB Cranfield project to Petra Nova, from IBDP to ICCS Project at Decatur, and at Quest which has learnt from across the USA’s RSCP projects. We also saw collaborative developments offshore, UK and EU with Japan, and USA with Japan. Playing a central role in these technology transfers and collaborations is the IEAGHG Monitoring Network, where much cross-fertilization is facilitated. These developments also demonstrate the value and resultant benefits from US government and EU and UK funding into monitoring R,D&D. As a backdrop to the meeting, the same week saw new funding announced by US DOE in a call for further offshore and monitoring developments.

A theme for this Monitoring Network meeting was learning from oil and gas operations. This was successful by design from presentations and discussions, but the learning turned out to go both ways, thanks to the healthy and inquisitive participation by oil and gas industry companies, some of them new to IEAGHG Monitoring Network meetings, some of them sponsoring the meeting.

In terms of offshore CCS, new at this meeting were developments in offshore sensors and their deployment systems, including the sister vessel of the UK’s famous Boaty McBoatface AUV, prompting a suggestion that the CCS version could be named Carbon McCarbonface.

Overall, another productive IEAGHG experts meeting. A report of the meeting will be published in due course.



Monica - BlogI attended the TCCS-9 conference by NCCS – International CCS Research Centre under auspices of NTNU and SINTEF. This conference takes place every two years since 2003 and run for two days in Trondheim. A total of 115 presentations and 10 keynotes were delivered, and topics covered carbon capture, transport, storage and utilization. Cross-cutting issues as power and industry sectors, policies, public acceptance, collaborative projects and CCS status in different locations were also presented.

Initial keynotes gave an overview of objectives within the Paris Agreement and the Norwegian Strategy. CICERO, ZERO SINTEF, Statoil, Gassnova and the Norwegian ministry of Petroleum and Energy commented on the role of CCS in Norway, highlighting the need of CCS as part of the energetic symbiosis. Moreover, views on the development of CCS in USA were given by DOE, who presented few projects as for example the Kemper site. However, behind Norway, USA has not advanced much in CCS applied to the cement industry. Northern Gas Networks commented on the H21 Leeds City Gate project in UK and the speakers agreed on the golden opportunity to play cards right and the ambition not only with regards to 2020 but for 2050. CCS has been proved for more than 20 years and the strategy to achieve a cost-effective solution will be based on Research+ Development+ Demonstration.

First round of research presentations focused on solvents, membranes, CCS in intensive industries and storage projects. I joined the session on new solvents, where few talks were focused on amines and NTNU presented their research on imidazoles. Results on ionic solvents were also showed by Tsinghua University and CSIRO. During the afternoon, pilot and large-scale testing, novel technologies, chemical looping, public acceptance, EOR and shallow monitoring were covered. I attended the session on pilot and large-scale testing, and this session covered multiple technologies, from emerging solvents (precipitating and non-aqueous), to interesting experience in Saskatchewan. A fascinating highlight was given from Colin Campbell on the need of standardized measurements. Additionally, the speech on the issues found during their demonstration was an exciting overview on real problems during implementation. It must also be noted the pilot plant demonstration on membranes for post-combustion, presented by the group of Emerita Professor May-Britt Hagg (NTNU), who received the SINTEF and NTNU CCS Award to recognise her career, emphasising her role in business and the recent exclusive license agreement with Air Product.

The second day opened interesting discussions on the role of CCU on mitigating climate change, presented by Imperial College London. The keynote from Christian Michelsen Research AS highlighted the need of global collaboration, while RITE addressed their talk on their research lines. The following sessions were focused on novel systems, modelling, transport, pre-combustion, CCUS, negative emissions, storage and international R&D. I joined the novel systems and modelling talks, where the flexibility of operations was covered as topic to reach long-term economic solutions on CCS. Moreover, new configurations were presented as strategies to obtain more efficient CCS systems.

I believe that the TCCS-9 was a good opportunity to see recent advances on remarkable international research. Discussions on financial aspects on CCS, how to make it profitable or when it will take place opened interesting debates. The inclusion of CCS within a new energy system instead of considering it as unique technology to achieve the decarbonisation goals was noticeable, although still more work is needed across technical, policy and society areas.

More information about this conference can be found in:


CTCN Workshop

New TD 2I attended a workshop by the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) at their headquarters in Copenhagen 22-23 May. CTCN was established as the operational arm of the UNFCCC’s ‘Technology Mechanism’ and has been given increased emphasis by the Paris Agreement. IEAGHG was one of the earlier members of the CTCN’s Network and have undertaken a few activities with CTCN. There are now around 300 members, and CTCN has received over 180 requests from developing countries for assistance so far. We were originally interested in this workshop as it was announced as an R,D&D workshop, and we have been used by IEA as a good example of an international collaborative R&D programme. Although the workshop subsequently evolved to a focus on ‘first-of-a-kind’ technologies and financing, we still considered that we would have useful contributions to provide from CCS experiences especially in developing countries. The workshop explored opportunities for CTCN to support climate technologies (both mitigation and adaptation) drawing upon successful examples, and identified means of de-risking finance in such technologies. CTCN asked us to moderate and report on a working group session on mapping expertise and gaps and challenges. We were able to share relevant examples from our area, and we also shared the CCS activities by our member in South Africa as an example for other countries to learn from in a ‘South-South’ interaction.

This was an interesting meeting, with many rich discussions, and seeing the issues and challenges for a broad range of mitigation and adaptation technologies, not just CCS. It was well attended with participants from a large range of countries, and well organised by CTCN.

For more information on this meeting see and .


Shell Quest CCS Project Visit

Following our 51st Executive Committee meeting of IEAGHG members in Edmonton, Alberta, Shell invited attendees to visit the Shell Canada Quest CCS Project. This was a great opportunity to visit this large-scale CCS demonstration plant now in operation, and, with the SaskPower’s Boundary Dam 3 CCS project, one of two major CCS projects located in Canada. As the first CCS project applied to oil sands operations, it was designed to capture and safely store an average of one million tonnes of CO2 per year. Launched in November 2015, the project is already on track to store its 2 millionth tonne of CO2 within the next couple of months – ahead of schedule.

The group were told about the process of planning, construction and subsequent operation that led to a successful project. Indeed, the process needed skilful and careful management. It quickly became obvious that they would not only need to show to politicians and public alike that the technology would operate effectively, reliably and safely, but they would also need to engage them of the social, economic and environmental benefits of the project. Following local meetings, coffee mornings and educational events that began well before project construction, the value of the project was recognised.

The Quest CCS project was built to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by capturing one-third of the CO2 emissions from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader, transporting it via an underground pipeline 65 km north and injecting it into a deep saline formation 2,000 metres below the surface.
The storage reservoir consists of a thick sandstone formation just above the Precambrian crystalline basement. It was deposited in an ancient near-shore marine environment close to a river system. The rock formation has good porosity and permeability properties complemented by an excellent shale seal which will retain the trapped CO2. The area also benefits from an evaporite formation stratigraphically above the shale which provides a secondary impermeable barrier.

The Quest storage site is monitored constantly in the storage reservoir with seismic and pressure, and above which includes water chemistry in three different aquifers above the storage complex and a laser system which can pick up atmospheric anomalies across the site. Microseismicity is also monitored. Data from monitoring systems is relayed back to the control centre at the Scotford facility. The monitoring systems have been designed to detect subtle changes and offer reassurance to local communities as well as those with a more general interest in the technology.

The project had been working extremely well, from both capture and storage perspectives. Not only had Shell’s target for CO2 capture been exceeded but the favourable subsurface geology meant that less wells had been needed, and they have further improved the cost-effectiveness of the monitoring. And, importantly for the future of similar projects, they estimate that, if Quest were built again today, it would cost 20-30% less to construct and operate.

Members of the IEAGHG ExCo were given a tour of the refinery and capture facility before being taken north to visit one of the injection and monitoring sites. Being on-site enabled a greater appreciation of this world-leading project, complimented by extensive and informative Q&A sessions by the members and IEAGHG staff with the Shell team. Many thanks to Shell for the visit.


12th CO2 GeoNet Open Forum

Lydia webLast week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend CO2GeoNet’s Forum, this year with the encouraging focus of ‘Driving CCS towards Implementation’. CO2GeoNet is a European Network body that currently comprises 26 research institutes from 19 European countries, and brings together over 300 researchers with the multidisciplinary expertise needed to address all aspects of CO2 storage.

The two day conference began by looking at the role of CCS in national mitigation strategies. A keynote by Niels Berghout from the IEA set the tone of the day, showing the significant progress CCS has made in the last 20 years (especially given the ups and downs that have been experienced in policy and political support). It was emphasised that CCS must now go beyond ‘clean coal’ to meet the challenges governments face to meet the ambitious Paris Agreement targets. This includes reducing emissions from industrial processes alongside power related sources, a task which is unlikely to be achievable without CCS.

A regular discussion throughout the forum was that to implement CCS, there needs to be an incentive and the motivation of avoiding climate change alone is currently insufficient without more economic benefits. IPCC reports have indicated the wide-spread commercial scale deployment of CCS is required as soon as possible in order to avoid the ‘2°C Scenario’. Currently this is not happening as quickly as it needs to with industry and government both pointing the finger at who is meant to be the driving force in implementing CCS commercially.

The second day focused on showcasing results from EU projects and the lessons learnt from international CCS projects. Global perspectives included updates from Shell (Quest), CO2CRC (Otway), RITE and the Kansas Geological Survey. The European project updates included talks from Ketzin, UK GeoEnergy Test Bed and Sintef of the Rotterdam Nucleus. Gassnova ended the day with an update on the upcoming Norwegian CCS projects and specifically the Smeaheia site. It was great to hear about so many different CCS projects with 22 large-scale CCS projects now in operation or under construction globally and a combined CO2 capture capacity around 40 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).

One of the main conclusions that emerged from the forum was that to reduce the counter party risk (which is currently increasing the price of projects) there is the need for regional co-ordinating bodies and a hub and cluster approach. In particular, shared transport systems were considered essential in driving CCS forward.

Numerous workshops were held after the forum with a personal highlight being “Bringing CCS to new regions” looking at how to bring CCS to developing countries. The panel discussion highlighted the particular importance of communication and the language used when promoting CCS. The potential CCS has for producing more jobs and enabling cleaner industry needs to be the focus of future discussions rather than stressing the importance of climate change, as short-term economics are likely to play an even more vital role than they currently do in Europe.

Overall the forum provided informative lively debate on how to drive CCS forward, and how the incentives would vary from country to country. Carbon capture technologies have been tested, safe CO2 storage has been proven and CCS is considered by many as essential for climate change mitigation. The passion for CCS from those attending was clear and we must hope that Europe’s policy and regulations to support its implementation are to follow.


IEAGHG 51st ExCo

Becky Kemp cropThe 51st bi-annual IEAGHG ExCo meeting has come to a close in the exciting Canadian city of Edmonton. The two day IEAGHG Executive Committee meeting began on Tuesday 9th May and was held in the wonderful Westin hotel, Edmonton. This regular meeting is held twice yearly, at different locations across the world each time, and gives IEAGHG an opportunity to provide our Members and Sponsors with programme progress, an update of recently completed and on-going activities and to approve any future work to be undertaken. It also gives our Members a chance to report back to the Programme on their activities over the last 6 months and any activities planned for the near future.

51 ExCoThe Programme’s ExCo Members were given a really interesting presentation from Wilfried Maas on Shell’s activities and also an overview of IEAGHG’s recent activities which included outcomes from GHGT-13 and an update on the High Temperature Solid Looping Cycles network along with an interesting update from Juho Lipponen on IEA’s activities. Tim Dixon eagerly presented on COP22 and COP23. There were also presentations on reports which are on-going and also proposals given for potential new studies for IEAGHG to carry out.

Members agreed to take forward 4 new studies this year – so do stay tuned to see the progress in these various areas; more details will come soon.

The ExCo dinner at this meeting was held in the hotel itself, where ExCo were treated to a private dining experience. Members were all very eager to discuss the outcomes of the first day and to have a chance to relax and enjoy the wonderful food.

A full-length article on the 51st IEAGHG ExCo meeting will be available in the upcoming June edition of the IEAGHG Greenhouse News.


More Articles...