In recent times, there’s been an increasing drive from oil operators to tighten up their environmental efficiencies, where possible. Amongst the most nuanced advances made over the past couple of decades has been the revelation that abandoned (or depleting) oil fields can actually play their part in carbon storage, and in achieving a greener future. The old dog, it seems, has a few tricks up its sleeve when its production days are over. TriStone Holdings Ltd is a burgeoning UK oil investment firm. We wanted to examine this CO2 storage and sequestration process in more detail, as well as some of the more recent examples of the technique, in action.
How Does It Work?
CO2 injection is now a well-understood branch of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage). This process has been used for both oil and gas, and for both onshore and offshore operations, so you can see just how wide its scope is. The advent of the technique brought with it concerns pertaining to wellbore integrity, for instance, and the management hazards associated with re-using infrastructure, however these have now well and truly been overcome. In practice, the process involves the following:
Carbon Capture And Transportation
Before the CO2 is stored it must first be captured – the two Cs of the acronym. This can be done in various ways, including carbon scrubbing, membrane gas separation and adsorption. The carbon dioxide must then be transported to the location of its sequestration. This is typically done using extensive networks of pipelines; the United States, for instance, has over 5,000 kilometres of pipeline used to transport the gas.
Finally comes the storage itself. Also known as geo-sequestration, this process involves injecting the CO2 into various geological formations. Oil fields are what we’re particularly interested in here at TriStone Holdings Ltd. For onshore operations, both carbonate and sandstone reservoirs have proven to be suitable for storage, making use of a cap rock to prevent any leakage.
A North Sea Case Study
Though this might sound like a thoroughly modern invention, it’s actually a process which has been around for sometime now. In fact, oil operator Equinor commissioned a CO2 storage project for its offshore Sleipner field, back in 1996. Whilst this is an example of offshore storage, and natural gas rather than crude oil, the principles are the same and so too, importantly, are the results. Over the past couple of decades, the platform has successfully injected and monitored CO2. To be precise, over 16 million Megatons!
Over that time, the operator has demonstrated that carbon dioxide could be safely stored, whilst at the same time producing economic and environmental benefits as a result. In other words, the Sleipner project has been a resounding success. In a time of such uncertainty, it’s nice as an oil investment company to remind ourselves that innovation flourishes during times of adversity, and it’s what the industry’s doing now.
Last year, Equinor released a data-sharing platform in which their data from the Sleipner platform could be viewed and examined; transparent collaboration of this sort will no doubt prove integral to operators, moving forward, in their efforts to discover ever more complex and sophisticated carbon capture and storage schemes.
Far From Alone…
The Sleipner platform is far from the only major CCS scheme planned within Europe. That said, at present, there are only a few fully operational examples; others remain at the pre-study or feasibility study stage. Also located in Norway is the Snøhvit CO2 Storage scheme. Since 2008, the LNG facility at Hammerfest, in Norway, has been injecting CO2 an impressive 2,500 metres down below the surface at the Snøhvit field, with over 700,000 tonnes of the gas being stored, annually.
Enhanced Oil Recovery – One Final Trick Up The Sleeve
For older oil fields not yet out of commission, CO2 storage can actually be used to help extract oil! How does the saying about birds and stones go, again? The economic costs and benefits of injecting CO2 in the EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) process are varied. They very much depend on the prevailing market conditions at the time. That said, using anthropogenic fossil fuels presents nations with a fantastic way of both tackling their environmental pledges. At the same time, it means they can meet stakeholder and global energy demand.
Is Oil Field CCS The Future?
There’s a growing consensus that a large part of the oil and gas sector’s future lies in the advancement of CCS schemes. With increasingly advanced technology, they’re becoming increasingly economically viable, even for smaller operators. There’s something inherently satisfying about the cyclical nature of such schemes, with O&G firms looking to give back when they take out!
Contact TriStone Holdings Ltd
Capturing carbon from the atmosphere is seen by many as being one of the most practical ways in which global energy standards can be met, over the coming years. Oil fields will no doubt play an increasing role within that.