The Weyburn carbon storage project has reached a critical phase after the alleged carbon dioxide leakage from its storage site. A blog post on this issue can be accessed here. This leakage issue was considered as a setback to the various CCS demonstration projects in the world as many countries are betting a lot on CCS technology as a possible way out to the present climate change crisis. The Alberta government sent out a message clearly saying that safety of its citizens won’t be compromised while finding a solution to reduce greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.
The leakage issue came to light after an independent consultant employed by a Saskatchewan farm couple to study the possible gas leakage from a storage site near their farm. The report of the consultant supported the claims of the farm couple that CO2 has leaked from the Weyburn storage site post its injection underground for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. The Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) which is involved in monitoring Weyburn project site for any possible leaks was entrusted with the task of finding out the truth behind the claims of the farmer. Based on the extensive study done by PTRC, no results were found that could support the claim that CO2 injected into the reservoir migrated to the surface causing the leakage.
The finding of the preliminary study is encouraging but a detailed study has to be done to ascertain the facts provided by PTRC to make sure that CCS is a safe and proven technology.
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In June 2010, climate negotiators were in the German city of Bonn, debating a stalled proposal to award UN-administered carbon credits to projects for capturing and burying carbon dioxide.
The move could richly reward the UAE, which plans to build the world’s first nationwide carbon-capture network, but was looking for international funding to help defray its costs. UAE’s technological ambitions ran into a possibly insurmountable foe – Brazil. If Brazil maintains the veto it disclosed last week in an official filing, things are unlikely to change this year, experts said. The proposal had already been put on hold on a number of occasions, including the Copenhagen climate summit last December.
Brazil has worked behind the scenes to delay the proposal for years, analysts say, but declared open war in a submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The plan to steer credits to carbon capture projects through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a funding scheme, amounted to “subsidies to enhance fossil fuel production”, Brazil claimed. Brazil is not isolated as it gets a fair amount of backing from the Alliance of Small Island States.
OPEC and the coal industry, along with international bodies such as the International Energy Agency, have endorsed carbon capture as the most viable means to combat climate change by taking the carbon out of the emissions of fossil fuels that provide most of the world’s energy. Brazil and others, however, say the promise to seal emissions permanently underground is unproven and the money for CCS is better spent on carbon-free energy sources such as solar.
However, Nick Otter, the chief executive of the Global CCS Institute, which has $100 million a year in funding committed by the federal government, said the major challenges of CCS were not insurmountable: “The challenge is to address these barriers to create the conditions for the integration of these technologies at commercial scale and across a variety of applications.”
Part of article sourced from the National
Given that there’s much too much excess carbon to sweep under the rug, many have turned to the nearest thing: sequestering it in deep-sea or underground storage facilities. The European Union plans to invest billions of Euros in carbon sequestration over the next ten years.
But according to Gary Shaffer, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, and leader of the Danish Center for Earth System Science, calculations show that undersea storage of CO2 would cause serious problems for marine life – and in any case, he says, the CO2 would quickly find its way back into the atmosphere.
“CO2 sequestration has many potential advantages over other forms of climate geo-engineering,” says Shaffer. “However, one should not underestimate short and long-term problems with leakage from reservoirs. Carbon in light form will seek its way out of the ground or seabed. The present situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a poignant reminder of that.”
Shaffer made long model projections for a number of sequestration/leakage scenarios. His results show that leakage of the stored CO2 could bring about serious warming of the atmosphere, large sea level rises, oxygen depletion, acidification, and high CO2 concentrations in the ocean. Underground storage could be effective, Schaffer says, but only if a CO2 leakage of one percent or less per thousand years can be obtained. Managing the leakage could be a burden for future society comparable to the long term management of nuclear waste, he says.
“The dangers of carbon sequestration are real, and the development of this technique should not be used as an argument for continued high fossil fuel emissions,” warns Shaffer. “On the contrary, we should limit CO2 emissions in our time to reduce the need for CCS and thus reduce unwanted burden over many future generations from the leakage of sequestered CO2.”
A new research paper from Houston University threatens to derail the growing political support for CCS as a tool in the fight against global warming, by claiming that governments have overestimated the viability/value of CCS. It says that it would take a reservoir the size of a small US state to hold the CO2 produced by one power station.
In the paper Michael Economides, professor of chemical engineering at Houston, and his co-author Christene Ehlig-Economides, professor of energy engineering at Texas A&M University, argues that previous modeling has hugely underestimated the space needed to store CO2, mainly due to the fact that it was based on the totally erroneous premise that the pressure feeding the carbon into the rock structures would be constant.
The paper concludes that CCS “is not a practical means to provide any substantive reduction in CO2 emissions, although it has been repeatedly presented as such by others.”
The report comes at a critical time, for British, French, and other governments worldwide have already started to fast-track a series of CCS prototype schemes as a way of removing carbon from the atmosphere and helping with climate change.
On the other hand, Chapman points out a successful CCS experiment: Statoil, a Norwegian oil firm, has been injecting CO2 into an old reservoir on the North Sea Sleipner field for some time.
But critics say the Sleipner scheme involved a million tonnes over three years, while one 500 MW commercial station would need to absorb and store 3 million tonnes annually for 25 years.
Read original article at the Guardian