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£3.27 million to research on geological storage

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£3.27 million has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of the Research Councils UK Energy programme, to four research projects to study the geological viability and safety of storing CO2 underground in depleted North Sea oil and gas fields or saline aquifers.

Carbon capture and storage cross section

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: “Finding ways to reduce our CO2 emissions requires the latest research, especially around new technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage. The UK’s world-class scientists are extremely well-placed to tackle this challenge thanks to continued investment in skills, knowledge and cutting edge projects like these.”

All the projects will come under the umbrella of the UK CCS Research Centre, established in April 2012, to improve coordination and visibility of approximately 150 UK academics working on CCS.

Dave Delpy, CEO of EPSRC said: “These projects will help accelerate the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage, enabling the UK to maintain its world leading role in this vital low carbon technology.”

Imperial College London in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University, Cardiff University, the University of Leeds and NERC British Geological Survey will receive £1.2 million to address some of the current knowledge gaps in this technology, drawing upon their experience in CO2 storage performance assessment research at industrial field pilots such as In Salah, Snøhvit and Sleipner.

£236,178 is awarded to the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre (SUERC). This study, led by Dr Stuart Gilfillan from the University of Edinburgh, aims to determine if the natural tracer (noble gases and carbon and oxygen Isotopes) fingerprint inherent in captured CO2 is sufficient to track its fate in the subsurface, distinguish ownership and to provide an early warning of unplanned migration out of the storage formation.

NERC British Geological Survey, with the University of Leeds, University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh and the National Oceanography Centre receives £893,883 to develop sophisticated, non-invasive methods to monitor underground carbon storage sites. They will use a range of techniques including 3D time-lapse seismic surveys and ‘passive’ listening devices such as very sensitive geophones, and satellite measurements of ground movements induced by CO2injection.

The research team and industry partners, BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd, Statoil Petroleum ASA and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, (DECC), will inform how different types of storage sites such as saline aquifers, will respond to CO2 being stored, and will help assess the best sites for safe and secure storage of large-scale CO2.

Finally, £925,473 is awarded to NERC British Geological Survey, Imperial College London, and Cardiff University and industry partner Shell Global Solutions International BV. This research team will focus on how the caprock and ‘reservoir’ rocks respond to oil and gas extraction and later ‘re-inflation’ as CO2 is injected. They will measure changes in stress, volume and permeability in the laboratory. The results will be applied to existing storage sites where hydrocarbon extraction has previously taken place.

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