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Report from UTCCS-4 – a four year review of GCCC achievements

TD CroppedThe University of Texas held their biennial conference on CCUS, UTCCS-4 on the 30-31 January. This conference combines the Texas Carbon Management Program’s amine-based capture research, the Gulf Coast Carbon Center’s applied research in storage, and the Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security program’s more fundamental research in storage.

The Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) at the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at the University of Texas has been running as an industry sponsored programme since 1998. Of particular note here was the reflection and summary on the last four years of work and results. Their programme has covered storage capacity and behaviour, fluid chemistry from deep reservoir to near-surface, unconventional EOR, monitoring methods, offshore storage, and knowledge sharing. The monitoring area’s objectives have included streamlining monitoring design for large-scale projects, testing this in commercial-scale projects (for example they monitor the CO2 injection and storage for the Port Arthur Project and Petra Nova project), extracting lessons from such large-scale projects for application to other large-scale projects, cost optimization and inputting to evolving regulatory and certification frameworks.

They have many examples of achieving their objectives, including successful monitoring tool development and commercialisation, for example with pressure-based monitoring in the above-zone interval and process-based monitoring at the near-surface. In terms of monitoring methodologies, GCCC have successfully developed and applied the ALPMI and attribution approaches (ALPMI is assessment of low probability material impacts). They have also developed a widely-applicable methodology for determining the carbon footprint of CO2-EOR, which on their case studies shows net carbon negative oil can be produced at earlier stages of a project. .

In terms of offshore CCS, the offshore storage assessments undertaken over many years by GCCC/BEG were impressive and provide very beneficial knowledge feeding into their CarbonSAFE project and their new GoMCARB project which further the assessments of storage and sources and potential project options in the Gulf of Mexico. They have just published the first CO2 storage atlas for the offshore Texas ( see http://www.beg.utexas.edu/node/4059 ). Their experiences in offshore monitoring at Japan’s Tomakomai project using high resolution seismic and environmental techniques were described, and their planned involvement with the UK’s ACORN project announced. The GCCC has also initiated the international Offshore CCS workshop series, with CSLF and IEAGHG.

Also impressive was the knowledge sharing of all of the above by GCCC in the last four years, with 117 publications and 207 presentations. They have also hosted 19 meetings and workshops, including the GHGT-12 conference and the IEAGHG Summer School in 2014 (with the other UT teams above). New collaborations with China, Mexico and monitoring work in the Surat Basin in Australia were announced.

Plenary talks at UTCCS-4 were provided by Howard Hertzog  of MIT on the issues with CCU and negative emission technologies, and by myself on the impacts of knowledge sharing by GCCC (and IEAGHG) in the global CCS scene.

So a very impressive review of achievements by the three teams at the University of Texas, in collaboration with their industry partners and US DOE.

For more information on these programmes see http://rochelle.che.utexas.edu/ , http://www.beg.utexas.edu/gccc/ , and http://www.utcfses.org/ .

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