An international research team, known as SECURe (Subsurface Evaluation of CCS and Unconventional Risks), has published recommendations on key risk mitigation strategies, thereby advancing current knowledge of how best to manage carbon dioxide (CO2) storage projects and unconventional hydrocarbons.

With the Paris Agreement stating that global warming must be limited to below 2°C, carbon capture and storage (CCS) strategies are becoming ubiquitous among international industry and government.

The three-year project, which finished in May, resulted in the team advancing its knowledge in areas such as monitoring and remediation, which ultimately assist with the potential of CO2 storage capability. The project, along with others, sees UK support through the Government’s 10-point green industry plan and European support through the Innovation Fund and the Projects of Common Interest (PCI).

As part of the research, the project team visited the USA, Canada and Australia to gather information from the world’s most advanced subsurface geoenergy facilities. This global investigation saw the creation of knowledge and data exchange service the International Platform for Environmental Monitoring (IPEM).

Commenting on the research, Ed Hough, Project Coordinator, British Geological Survey – which led the research, said, “Our novel research has furthered understanding of what baseline environmental conditions mean in the context of ensuring CO2 storage operations are conducted in a safe and reliable manner.”

“SECURe has advanced environmental monitoring and remediation that will help the uptake of subsurface CO2 storage. We have also improved our understanding of how geoenergy projects are perceived by non-experts, which is valuable in designing message to help the acceptance of schemes in host communities.”

By gathering scientific evidence, the researchers identified four main hazards associated with geological CO2 storage (including leakage) and five with unconventional hydrocarbons extraction (UHE) and induced seismicity – the risk of causing tremors or minor earthquakes through extraction processes. Recommendations associated with each issue has been addressed in a series of factsheets.

The project, costing €8.5m, was funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and published 41 research reports from 16 different organisations. The reports detail advances in monitoring strategies, advanced monitoring and sensor technology and impact mitigation. In addition to this, the project studied the development and exchange of best practice associated with CO2 storage and UHE sites.

Speaking about this international collaboration, Hough said, “Part of the legacy of SECURe is enhanced international collaboration between research teams and organisations that share common goals and interests in reaching lower carbon futures, environmental monitoring and risk reduction for new uses of the subsurface.”

He also said that it is expected that, with the strong progress the project has made, IPEM will take the form of a regular biannual event series.