Archive for the ‘CCS’ Category

Scotland, Enhanced Oil Recovery & Carbon Capture and Storage

October 20, 2011

I am not even remotely surprised at the Longannet carbon capture and storage (CCS) project being killed. Westminster’s cost share for developing the proposed technology was £1 billion. I would wager that implementing the sort of CCS technology envisaged for the Longannet project, post-combustion CO2 capture, even if it could be successfully developed, would exceed ten times this amount. Additionally, another massive power plant would have to be constructed to offset the parasitic load to operate Longannet’s CCS, NOx, SO2 and particulate pollution control systems. There are alternatives that utilize coal such as IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) power plants, essentially pre-combustion CO2 capture systems, that present better choices (although they have technical challenges, too).
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, was critical of the decision and was quoted as saying, “Oil revenues are running at record levels, our offshore industry has a key role to play in generating jobs, skills and wealth for decades to come, we are leading the revolution in clean, green energy and we can and should be at the forefront of pioneering carbon capture technology.” True, I couldn’t agree more. Richard Dixon of WWF Scotland was reported as stating, “Lots of valuable research and planning has been done around the Longannet proposal, which could put Scotland in pole position to have a CCS scheme at the existing gas-fired power station at Peterhead or the recently-consented gas-fired power station at Cockenzie.” Agreement here, too, but with a twist.
Focus on carbon capture at Peterhead using IGCC; that power plant is already on a high pressure pipeline, too. Exploit this pre-existing pipeline infrastructure, with appropriate modifications and extensions, to transmit the generated CO2 to depleted oil reservoirs offshore – essentially a reversal of the previous flow. Inject the CO2 into these depleted fields for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Partner with BP or a smaller company like Apache. OK, they are not a “major” but they do CO2-EOR already, in Saskatchewan, and have a presence in the North Sea. Statoil have been storing CO2 under the North Sea for years at Sleipner. This can be done.
Rather than the expensively captured CO2 being injected solely for geologic sequestration, Peterhead’s CO2 would then be a bulk commodity used to extend the life of existing oil fields in the North Sea. Recoverable reserves would be massively expanded wherever CO2-EOR technology could be successfully applied, as has been demonstrated at SACROC (Texas) and the Weyburn-Midale (Saskatchewan) oil fields. Future production from already depleted fields could conceivably be more than doubled, as happened at SACROC after CO2 injection began. Although the CO2 would be recaptured for reuse, some will become trapped in the subsea pore space. Eventually, exhausted reservoirs can be devoted exclusively to CO2 geologic storage. So not only would Scotland derive the benefit from massively extended oil production through EOR, CCS will occur, too.
I well remember the ’70s and hearing the propaganda organs of the British state spewing nonsense about the oil being depleted before the end of the century. I was suspicious then, but I have the knowledge and experience now to know that their nonsense was in fact bare-faced lies. Given the advances in the science and engineering that underpins oil production, I have no doubt that at least the same volume of North Sea oil that has been produced up to 2011 can be extracted over the coming half century.
Some interesting links: