Unlocking the North Sea's CO2 storage potential

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The secure and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) within a single geological storage formation can be optimised by injecting CO2 at more than one point simultaneously, according to results from an innovative study of rocks beneath the UK North Sea and which involved scientists from Heriot-Watt University.

Launched at the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen, the findings could help to unlock an immense CO2 storage resource underlying all sectors of the North Sea for the storage of Europe’s carbon emissions, and will inform the work of those managing and operating this natural asset.

This research confirms how the huge CO2 storage resource potential beneath the North Sea can be optimised.
Fergus Ewing

The process of storing CO2 captured from power plants and industrial facilities in deep geological formations is known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and is a key technological solution for meeting climate change targets over the coming decades.

The research by scientists and prospective site operators has used a UK North Sea case study – the Captain Sandstone – to predict the performance of a potential CO2 storage formation when the greenhouse gas is injected at two points at the same time over three decades.

The study’s conclusions will help to increase confidence among regulators and investors in the secure containment of CO2 within “multiple-user” storage formations.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said, “Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has the potential to be one of the most cost-effective technologies for decarbonisation of our power and industrial sectors, as well as those of economies worldwide. With £2.5 million of funding already committed this year to undertake substantial industrial research and feasibility studies in Grangemouth, the Scottish Government is already playing a pivotal role in the development and commercialisation of this innovative, exciting technology.

“This research confirms how the huge CO2 storage resource potential beneath the North Sea can be optimised, which, combined with the infrastructure already in place, again reinforces the huge opportunity for Scotland around CCS.“

Professor Eric MacKay, of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt, said, “The CO2MultiStore project has demonstrated that the North Sea provides a world class storage opportunity, and that it is possible to manage multiple storage sites within a single formation to ensure security and maximise capacity.”