CO2 injection and storage - Short and long-term behaviour at different spatial scales

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Earth Science and Engineering


Projections of energy usage generally agree that the world will be heavily reliant on fossil fuels well into the second half of the 21st Century. Until our energy demands can be met by alternative sources, geological storage of CO2 in depleted petroleum reservoirs and deep saline aquifers is widely acknowledged to offer one of the most promising and practical means to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning power stations in the developed world and more importantly in rapidly developing nations such as China and India. Estimated reductions in CO2 emission from carbon capture and storage from fossil fuel generating stations can be as high as 90%.
The UK Government has an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is expected to play a major role to meet this target. Although CO2 has been injected into petroleum reservoirs for over 50 years to improve oil recovery, there are still many uncertainties that must be addressed before governments will commit to the level of CCS that is needed to have a significant impact on CO2 emissions. A large amount of research has been initiated in many countries to address these uncertainties. In addition, several CO2 storage pilot studies have been completed or are in progress both on- and off-shore as well as within depleted petroleum reservoirs and saline aquifers.
This project addresses the gaps in our current knowledge in this field through an integrated laboratory and numerical modelling approach. The main objectives of the project can be summarised as:-
- to develop methodologies to optimise CO2 injection well placement and control strategies accounting for uncertainties and influence on neighbouring licenses.
- to establish the effects of in situ pressure and temperature conditions on caprock fracture closure and fault reactivation through laboratory and numerical investigations.
- to investigate and improve our understanding of the in situ wellbore cement/rock and cement caprock behaviour in order to assess well integrity.
- to develop novel wellbore and caprock leakage mitigation and remediation technologies utilising sealants and induced mineral precipitation processes.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries for Societal and Economic Impacts: A broad range of stakeholders have been identified and are expected to benefit from our work in the short and the longer term.

UK Policymakers- The proposed project will generate robust and reliable evidence on two of the most significant North Sea CO2 storage systems one of which is currently considered for UK's competition for £1bn in capital funding available to support commercial scale CCS projects. The other formation, the Rotliegend Group of the Southern and Northern North Sea stretches from the eastern shores of the UK to Poland while the northern Permian basin terminates east of mainland Denmark. In both basins, Rotliegend Group aeolian and fluvial sandstones form good quality reservoirs for hydrocarbons. The risk perception studies and stakeholder engagement workshop to be organised will provide expert knowledge that UK policymakers will be able to utilise particularly approaching the general public with regards to CO2 storage. The expert knowledge that will be generated in the project, held in UK academic and research institutions with a long track record in CCS research, will certainly inform strategic decisions for national and European policy regarding the CO2 storage in these formations.

UK Regulators- The project will provide ground-breaking new knowledge in Task 1.3 and 1.4 regarding CO2 storage license optimisation and basin scale management that will be used to provide technical advice, develop and maintain fit-for-purpose licensing regulation. WP3 will develop new technology and testing methods that the regulators will be able to use to establish site closure and remediation guidance for CO2 storage projects.

NGOs- The availability of reliable, independent advice and expertise is particularly important for NGOs which typically have very small expert in-house teams.

Industry- CO2 storage system developers & operators will benefit from the ideas and research outputs from the project on strategic issues as well as specifically on the design, operation, closure and remediation of CO2 storage projects. Progressive energy and their collaborators in the UK CCS competition will support project steering and help to ensure that the many potential impacts of the project are made widely available. They will directly benefit from close involvement in the project, particularly through understanding the key determinants of storage system performance.

Technology and Innovation hubs- ETI is supporting the proposed project and will make accessible to the partners their database developed in the UK Storage Appraisal Project (UK SAP) and will benefit from the specialist knowledge and expertise that will be generated in the project. The UK Technology Strategy Board, as UK's national innovation agency, responsible for supporting new innovation to move ideas closer to the commercial market will also benefit from interaction with the consortium and the experience of the interaction between the industrial partners supporting the project and the academic and research institutes conducting the research.

SMEs- The availability of original academic research is particularly important to identify focus for developments with limited budget, also benefit from the testing of products (e.g. sealants, CO2 injection, wellbore completion technologies) and the modelling work to be carried out.

Academic beneficiaries - An important objective is to disseminate the methods & results generated through the project widely, through the publication of results in learned journals and conferences, activities to engage with the very broad stakeholder base and where appropriate through formal exploitation of the intellectual property. The project will take an active role as part of the UKCCSRC and will undertake a wider networking role with the research and user community outside the project membership. Dedicated resources have already been allocated to these tasks.


10 25 50

Description The research funded by this Grant was completed in August 2017. The project developed a number of geological models for potential CO2 storage sites in the North Sea Basin to investigate the effect of CO2 storage on pressure distribution within a storage complex and neighbouring licenses. Numerical modelling work also investigated the effects of temperature changes on reservoir and caprock integrity. Research findings led to the development of an optimised injection strategy to maximise the dynamic CO2 storage capacity of storage complexes. Experimental research on wellbore integrity for CO2 leakage mitigation and remediation lead to the characterisation of long term changes at the interface between well cement and reservoir/caprock formations, as well as developing a self-sealing smart cement, which were used in assessing wellbore leakage and mitigation potential numerically. The risk and perception studies part of the project held stakeholder and public engagement workshops to develop an informed choice-based methodology. Research findings were published as journal articles in Energy Procedia and the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, as well as being presented at the 12th International Greenhouse Gas Technologies Conference in Austin, Texas on October 2014 and at the 13th International Greenhouse Gas Technologies Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland in November 2016.
Exploitation Route The research findings are most relevant for the industry in managing and maximising the CO2 storage capacity of the reservoirs as well as mitigating against CO2 leakage at the wellbore and the caprock. The members of the research consortium disseminate the results widely at meetings with the industry and their associations at different platforms. Research partners also utilise their findings in furthering their research through new research proposals and grants and contracts secured.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description Discussions held with industry through conference presentations led to further meetings and confidence building on the research findings, and their use of the methodology in their work in the field. The public engagement workshops held in parts of the UK where onshore and offshore CO2 storage is considered informed the attendees on CO2 storage, risk assessment and risk mitigation for them to make better choices in their approach to the technology.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Energy,Environment
Description Oil and Gas Climate Initiative
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact informed strategic decisions taken by multinational companies in the energy sector
Description Oil and Gas Industry Climate Initiative
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Oil and Gas Climate Initiative 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2016 
End 09/2019
Description Sustainable Gas Institute via the BG Group
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation BG Group 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2019
Description The Crown Estate research funds
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Crown Estate 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2015 
End 04/2016
Description UKCCSRC Meeting Fund to host a meeting on "Geophysical Monitoring for CO2 Storage, Monitoring and Appraisal" in Leeds, by Prof Quentin Fisher
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK Carbon Capture & Storage Research Centre 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 11/2015
Title A database of polymer-gel characteristics for use in leakage remediation 
Description A number of polymer-gel solutions were characterised in the laboratory and their mobility in porous media tested and recorded. Used in numerical modelling of Co2 leakage remediation. Publications made it available tot he research community 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The industry is informed about the behavior trough presentations and publications 
Title A database of shale mechanical and elastic properties 
Description Database of shale mechanical and elastic properties for use in research and numerical modelling 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Shared with research partners which helped their research in an emerging research field 
Title A new smart cement with self healing properties when CO2 leakage is experienced 
Description A cement mixture developed which seals when in contact with CO2 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact the industry has noed its use and may be using in the field 
Description Attendance and a presentation at the Second EAGE Workshop on Geomechanics and Energy, Celle, Germany (by T.O.Lynch of Leeds University) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of research findings at an academic/industry meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Attendance and presentations at the UKCCSRC Bi-Annual Meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented the findings of the RCUK funded projects to the audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015
Description Attended the CO2GeoNet Venice Open Forums as a founding member and made presentations and media releases 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented the research findings to an international audience and joined dicussions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
Description Public engagement workshop on CCS risk perception 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a two day public engagement workshop to inform and assess public perception on CO2 Capture and Storage. Participants were recruit from the area surrounding Selby, a small town 11km from Drax Power Station; the UK's largest coal/biomass co-fired power plant, previously earmarked for CCS retrofit under the UK governments cancelled CCS competition. The workshop explored the effects of high profile project cancellations on perceptions of CCS, and, how various visions for CCS in fossil and bio-fuel powered energy generation and industrial applications are interpreted in the context of alternate options for decarbonisation. The public view was expressed as bioenergy with CCS being perceived as a long term and more natural solution to issues of energy insecurity and climate change than other CCS options.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description The impact of deformation bands in fault zones on permeability: an upscaling approach 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at a meeting organised by the Geological Society on Handling fault seals, baffles barriers and conduits: Cost effective & integrated fault seal analysis. Academia, researchers and industry attended
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017