By Tip Meckel
Many nations recognize that immense potential for geologic storage of carbon dioxide exists in subsea sites on the continental shelf. Indeed, every continent in the world is bordered by passive marine margins suitable for storage. The geology does not stop at the shoreline, and the deep subsurface of those offshore margins is highly suitable for storage. An added attraction of offshore storage is co-location of carbon sources and sinks, as most large industrial emissions sources occur in coastal regions. Compared to onshore sites, which are owned by private entities, offshore territories are controlled by government gencies, thus simplifying regulation and permitting. In addition, potential risks to shallow sources of drinking water and human health and safety are reduced in offshore settings. Such benefits have the potential to resonate with many nations, in particular, industrialized countries that must participate in climate change mitigation for any meaningful impact to occur.
But, working in an offshore environment presents challenges. Costs of siting, development, and monitoring are not insignificant, and regulation of risk and liability may not be well established in all nations.
by Susan Hovorka
A lot of work has been done on designing monitoring programs for carbon capture and storage sites. All of the regulations, very properly, say that monitoring should be site-specific. But the details of how a regulator and an operator determine what is site-specific have not been fully explored. This creates uncertainty. What the site-specific phrase means to a regulator may not match up with what the site-specific phrase means to a site developer.
At the Gulf Coast Carbon Center, we have considered the ways that monitoring tools interact with sites. In this context, we have found it useful to think of these tools as traps for catching carbon dioxide leaks. Leakage from a well-characterized storage reservoir is not expected, however even from a site for which the characterization is excellent, some uncertainty remains. Stakeholders, such as regulators, capture industries, project financiers, or the public may find such uncertainty unacceptable. To borrow an analogy from a business whose entire goal is the elimination of the unacceptable: You can’t catch a mouse with a squirrel trap. You also won’t catch a mouse in a lake in the winter. You have to set the right kind of trap, in the right place, at the right time to determine if you do or do not have mice.
We explore how to set the right trap to catch leakage using four common tools as examples. Continue reading
by Juli Berwald
In 2006, the very first tweet was sent. It read, “just setting up my twttr.” That same year, the Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC), along with many partners, was starting an effort you could argue was even more ambitious. It would provide key information about one of the most feasible technologies we currently have available to mitigate climate change. The GCCC was in the planning stages of the most densely observed field study of carbon capture and sequestration in the United States. Located at Cranfield Field, Mississippi, no other sequestration project aimed to incorporate as many different geological and technical measurements at a single storage site.
A special section of the October issue of the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control is dedicated to documenting the seven years of research on CCS at Cranfield. The section is a mid-project overview and assessment of the CCS fieldwork, dense data collection, and analysis that still continues there. The section consists of sixteen papers authored by GCCC staff and their colleagues. It opens with a discussion of the Cranfield project design and covers risk assessment, characterization, injection and production activities, as well as monitoring techniques and modeling. The volume was guest-edited by Susan Hovorka, Tip Meckel and JP Nicot.