Advancing Containment, Conformance and Injectivity Technologies for Effective Geological Storage of CO2

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a geologic and engineering enterprise designed to reduce atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). CCS technology could play an important role in efforts to limit the global average temperature rise to below 2°C, by removing carbon dioxide originating from fossil fuel use in power generation and industrial plants. The integrated CCS process captures carbon dioxide (CO2) generated at large-scale industrial sources (power plants, refineries, gasification facilities, etc.) and transports it to an injection site to be permanently stored in the subsurface – typically in saline reservoirs or depleted oil and gas fields.

Canada is a world-leader in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology with two operating projects: Shell-Quest in Alberta; and Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan. Together these projects currently capture more than 2 Mtpa of CO2. At Quest, more than 1 Mtpa is injected directly into a deep subsurface storage formation (Basal Cambrian) using three injection wells. At Boundary Dam, most of the captured CO2 is sold for use in the Weyburn CO2-EOR project with the remainder also injected into the Basal Cambrian storage complex via a single 3400m deep injection well as part of the Aquistore Project.

There is an immediate opportunity to expand both of these projects that could lead to significant CO2 reductions (i.e., Mtpa) in a short time (ie the injection capacity. At Boundary Dam, the operator (SaskPower) faces an imminent decision whether to add carbon capture capacity to its upcoming retrofits on Boundary Dam-4 and -5 power station units. That decision depends in large part on the capacity of the Basal Cambrian storage formation to store increased amounts of CO2.

To advance our understanding of containment, conformance and injectivity processes associated with the geological storage of CO2, this research project will take leverage access to invaluable field performance data collected at these two Canadian projects to study the following:

  • Numerical studies underpinned by project performance measures to advance our understanding of potential subsurface issues (i.e. containment, conformance) related to cold CO2 injection.

  • Investigate the impact of higher injection rates in existing wells and the addition of one or more additional injection wells.

  • High resolution three dimensional numerical studies to assess whether additional injection wells could be placed within existing storage complexes without impacting the subsurface storage complex and confining layers.

  • Assessment of whether lateral and/or vertical migration of displaced brine have any significant impact on other uses of the pore space, including shallow freshwater aquifers.