Experts says carbon dioxide storage is safe


Experts says carbon dioxide storage is safe

Dr Peter Cook

Storing carbon dioxide underground is safe, permanent and highly unlikely to cause earthquakes, according to experts from the Cooperative Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC), who are undertaking carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Victoria. The comments came in response to a recent Great Southern Star article suggesting the possibility of increased earthquakes and how that might affect the storage of carbon dioxide in South Gippsland. “The community is right to ask questions about any new technology but for well selected, designed and managed geological storage sites the risks will be very low,” says geologist and Chief Executive of CO2CRC, Dr Peter Cook. “Gas and liquid have been naturally stored underground in Gippsland for millions of years,” he says. “Carbon dioxide storage is just using the same principles, with the benefit of many years of experience in the oil and gas industry." Victoria already stores large amounts of natural gas underground in geological formations, such as the Iona facility near Port Campbell, drawing on it when gas demand is high. “Through the oil and gas industry we have a very good understanding of how seismic activity or earthquakes can be caused by human activities such as extraction of minerals, groundwater, oil or natural gas. Changes in pressure, either from extraction or injection, is well understood and can be managed safely, as it is now with oil and gas fields. “If a site is well understood even a large natural earthquake near a carbon dioxide storage site is unlikely to leak. In Japan in 2004, the Nagaoka carbon dioxide storage and monitoring project experienced a very large earthquake during an injection trial, with no leakage detected." Dr Cook says that concerns over geological faults can be addressed. “We look very closely at faults when characterising a site. They are not always a way for carbon dioxide to leak out – often they are ‘sealing faults’ – actually helping to keep the carbon dioxide in. “The point is that every site is different and needs to be carefully and individually assessed. If there is any doubt, it won’t be used.” CO2CRC’s Otway Project in south-west Victoria has been safely injecting carbon dioxide since April 2008 as part of an internationally renowned research project into underground storage of carbon dioxide. “Victoria is part of world-leading research to fine-tune the techniques for large-scale projects that will ensure the right geology is selected and that storage is safe and permanent. “While CCS will not be the only solution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, it is an essential part of the picture, along with renewables and energy efficiency. It is also the only technology that can reduce the emissions from important industries such as cement, fertiliser and steel production, major sources of carbon dioxide – we cannot simply ignore its potential. “With Victoria’s geology and skills base it is also likely that CCS will be an important new industry for the State, generating many new jobs.”

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Posted by Foxglove on Feb 22 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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