Norway’s StatoilHydro has been storing almost 2,800 tonnes of CO2 removed from natural gas produced on its Sleipner West field in the North Sea every day, and believes the technique is both feasible and safe.
The CO2 is injected and stored in the Utsira formation, containing porous sand rock filled with salt water, rather than being emitted into the atmosphere. This sandstone formation extends over a large area in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and the facility has been online since 1996, recording a very high regularity.
The company believes that carbon storage under the seabed may be an important tool in the efforts to slow global warming and from its extensive experience in this area, suggests that the much discussed method is both practical and a safe concept.
StatoilHydro says its research and monitoring of the carbon injection into the Utsira formation show that the greenhouse gas is retained in the formation and that this is an environmentally friendly and safe way of reducing climate gas emissions.
Rolf Håkon Holmboe, Head of HSE on the Sleipner field, said, “This is a good carbon capture demonstration project. Sleipner documents that carbon storage is feasible and safe.”
“We wish to build on the experience we have gained through 12 years of operations employing carbon capture and storage techniques,” agrees Sjur Talstad, Vice President, Sleipner production.
The Sleipner organisation is exploring the possibilities of offering other petroleum discoveries in the area the opportunity to process gas, remove CO2 from the gas and store it in the Usira formation. CO2 capture is done at Sleipner with a conventional amine process, with the company noting it was a challenge to design this process compact enough so that it could be placed on an offshore platform in the middle of the North Sea, 250km from land.
The extra equipment cost for the CO2 compression and the drilling of the CO2 injection well was roughly $100m and until recently eight million tonnes of CO2 have been stored. The spreading of the CO2 underground has been mapped in various research projects, which were partly financed by the European Union (EU).
The EU aims to cut Europe's carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 and carbon storage may be one of several necessary requirements. A decision by the EU Parliament as to whether, and on what conditions, such storage may be permitted is scheduled for 2008.