Western Canadian Study Concludes Large-scale CO2 Storage Is Safe
The four-year, multidisciplinary study was conducted by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) in Regina under the auspices of the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas (IEA GHG) Research and Development Programme.
The PTRC worked on the study in close collaboration with EnCana Corporation of Calgary, Alberta, which operates the 50-year-old Weyburn field in southeastern Saskatchewan.
"The Weyburn project was the first large-scale study ever conducted in the world of the geological storage of CO2 in a partially depleted oil field," explained Mike Monea, executive director of the PTRC. "While there are numerous large commercial CO2-enhanced oil-recovery operations globally, there are none that have undertaken the depth and extent of research that we have."
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is one of the 15 public- and private-sector institutions that funded the study.
"I am pleased with the results of this project, and with the enormous potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels through capturing and storing CO2," said the Honourable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. "The leading-edge technology demonstrated here is key to the Government of Canada's approach to addressing climate change."
Other institutions which funded the $40-million (Canadian) project include the U.S. DOE, Saskatchewan Industry and Resources, Alberta Energy Research Institute, and the European community. Industry participants include EnCana, BP, ChevronTexaco, Dakota Gasification Company, ENAA (Japan), Nexen, SaskPower, TransAlta and Total (France). Altogether, the project involved 24 research and consulting organizations in Canada, Europe and the U.S.
During the study, researchers conducted a long-term risk assessment, completed geological and seismic studies, matched reservoir modeling against actual results, and performed repeated and frequent sampling to understand chemical reactions occurring in the reservoir.
"The Weyburn project is a prime example of innovative research in Saskatchewan that has global application," Saskatchewan Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline said. "The work that has been done in Weyburn has enormous benefits for our growing oil industry and also represents a key contribution by our province to solving the challenges of climate change."
The Weyburn oil field has stored an estimated five million ton of CO2 over the IEA GHG project life - equivalent to taking about one million cars off the road for one year. The CO2 is supplied through a 325-km pipeline from Dakota Gasification Company's coal-gasification plant at Beulah, ND.
The Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies Conference, where the report was released, is the first international gathering of its kind ever held in Canada, drawing expert academics, scientists and policy-makers from around the world. The previous conference was held in Kyoto, Japan, in 2002.