Scaling up CO2 storage
July 1, 2020
Almost 40 Mt of CO2 is currently stored each year. By 2030, according to the International Energy Agency, that volume would have to expand to around 1.5 GT a year – over 30 times more – to be on track to achieve the Paris goals.
Storing CO2 emissions at that scale depends on the development of a functioning CCUS industry, something that OGCI is actively trying to enable and underpin. Last year, OGCI launched its KickStarter initiative to facilitate large-scale commercial investment in CCUS, by enabling low-carbon industrial hubs around the world. In parallel, the $1B+ OGCI Climate Investments fund has invested in CCUS projects and technologies that open up new areas of opportunity. Member companies are also key players in some of the largest CCUS facilities in operation – and working to develop innovative technologies and applications.
But the key to these and other CCUS efforts is a high level of confidence in the availability of suitable geological storage resources in the places they are needed. These are largely depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers, but also result from CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations.
Watch: Sue-Ern Tan, OGCI’s CCUS Champion, and Dr. Chris Consoli, Senior Consultant at the Global CCS Institute discuss why CCUS is crucial to achieving Paris goals and how the Catalogue can help CCUS be deployed at the scale required
How much storage space is available?
At present, assessments are fragmented, not standardized and insufficient for understanding the readiness of storage resources for commercial use. That’s why OGCI has launched the CO2 Storage Resource Catalogue, in collaboration with the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI) and Pale Blue Dot, which aims to become the global repository for all independently published information on safe, secure and permanent geologic storage resources.
The Catalogue provides a centralized publicly available database of storage sites and a common terminology for classifying them. It uses the Storage Resource Management Scheme (SRMS) to identify the size and maturity of the resource. This classifies sites as ‘undiscovered’ and ‘discovered’, with many sub-categories that define the degree of commercial readiness, based on both technical and regulatory aspects.
Even in its first iteration – covering 525 sites across 13 countries – the analysis backing the Catalogue shows that there is already sufficient storage space available to meet Paris goals. Across all maturity classes there is a total of 12,300 GT of potential capacity, taking into account published evaluations of oil and gas fields and saline aquifers where the CO2 could be injected.
Just 3% of these sites (representing 408 GT) are classified as ‘discovered’, meaning that drilling has taken place and reporting is available – but even that is more than enough to meet Paris Agreement goals. Nevertheless, more work is still needed to get an investor-level of confidence in the capacity to store CO2 in these resources. At present, only 106 Mt is classed as ‘commercial’, which means that regulatory and policy conditions are also in place to enable commercial development. (The Catalogue does not include EOR operations in the US which make up a large share of CO2 currently stored). That is why it is in these locations – especially the US, Canada, Norway and the UK – that the next round of CCUS projects is likely to take place.
OGCI and GCCSI are aiming to share the learnings from these hubs and projects to help governments and industry understand the technical and regulatory work needed to mature storage as required – and so facilitate the global expansion of CCUS.
Is CO2 storage safe and permanent?
The Catalogue is a significant step towards the commercialization of storage resources for CCUS – helping to accelerate the decarbonization of heavy industries like steel, cement, power, refineries and chemicals. It can also support the scale up of a clean hydrogen industry, as well as the deployment of negative emissions through direct air capture. But it also part of a growing infrastructure that supports the development of a safe, secure and environmentally responsible CCUS industry.
Companies have been injecting CO2 into oil and gas filled formations for almost five decades. The key is to identify the right place to inject and contain the CO2, which is trapped in microscopic rock pores by the same process that trapped oil and gas and natural CO2 for millions of years. Geologists look for a permeable rock formation that is stable and deep enough to ensure the CO2 is a dense fluid rather than a gas.
Over the past 20 years, companies have started using geological storage to reduce CO2 emissions – a far superior alternative to putting it into the atmosphere. As they do this, they have begun to monitor the CO2 to ensure it remains buried and reporting in detail to the authorities.
Governments and industrial emitters have started to recognize that CCUS can help enable a faster and smoother transition to net zero emissions – especially where there are few abatement alternatives. As countries look for ways to decarbonize, while facilitating recovery growth and job creation post-Covid, the pace of capturing and storing CO2 emissions is likely to pick up.
ABOUT OGCI CLIMATE INVESTMENTS:
OGCI Climate Investments is a $1B+ fund that invests in solutions to decarbonize sectors like oil and gas, industrials and commercial transport. We look for outcomes that reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions, and that can recycle or store carbon dioxide. Achieving significant impact requires global implementation and commercial frameworks – at OGCI Climate Investments, we collaborate with innovators, investors and governments to fund and implement impactful solutions.
To learn more about OGCI Climate Investments, please visit www.ogci.com/climate-investments
The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative is a CEO-led consortium that aims to accelerate the industry response to climate change. OGCI member companies explicitly support the Paris Agreement and its aims. As leaders in the industry, accounting for over 30% of global operated oil and gas production, we aim to play an active role in shaping the global pathway to net zero emissions. We do this by leveraging the collective strengths of OGCI, continually improving, and building on good international corporate practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate transitions to a low-carbon future. OGCI member companies include BP, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell and Total.
To learn more about OGCI, please visit www.ogci.com