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Former UK oil wells could be turned into CO2 landfill test sites | Oil

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Depleted oil and gas wells would be turned next year into the UK’s first deep test sites for carbon dioxide burial, under plans by a consortium of universities and companies energetic.

There are hundreds of active onshore oil and gas wells in the UK. But as they reach the end of their life, some must be redeployed for CO pumping tests.2 underground and watch it to make sure it doesn’t escape, the group said. Test wells could also be used to assess how hydrogen can be stored underground.

CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will play an important role in the fight against the climate crisis, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and UK official advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC). Reservoirs under the North Sea offer the greatest potential for CO storage2 from burning fossil fuels, but the consortium said reusing existing terrestrial wells is the fastest and cheapest way to research and develop safe and efficient systems.

The Net zero increase (Underground Energy Research Infrastructure) involves the universities of Newcastle, Oxford and Durham, and fossil fuel companies IGas and Third Energy.

He identified 20 candidate wells, mainly in Yorkshire and the Midlands. A CCS test site would bury a relatively small amount of CO2, about 1000 tonnes, at a depth of 1 to 3 km. The cost of reallocating one well, two monitoring wells and monitoring equipment would be around £ 5million, the group said.

“CO2 storage in the North Sea is probably going to be very large, but we need a capacity ashore, a national asset, so that we can do some testing and see what monitoring is adequate to understand where the CO is2 is gone, ”said Professor Richard Davies, from the University of Newcastle, who is leading the project.

“If we don’t do it soon, we’ll lose an opportunity to use this infrastructure,” he said, as depleted wells are usually filled with cement. “These assets are already there, while the drilling [new] drilling is very expensive and adds some risk. The range of boreholes available to us will also provide opportunities to test different types of rocks. “

Test sites already exist in the United States, Canada and Australia, but Davies said the UK facilities would be better because they could have a very similar geology to that under the North Sea. The British Geological Survey is also examining the case for underground CO2 storage research laboratory.

Hydrogen is seen as part of the shift to a low carbon economy and being able to store it underground would help ensure a secure energy supply. It is a tiny molecule and large rock salt formations are probably the best for trapping gas, but the UK has few such deposits.

“We also want to look at the hydrogen,” Davies said. “Could it penetrate the sandstone sealed by a shale, a fine-grained, low-permeability rock?” Can we monitor the hydrogen underground if it were to be stored there?

A CCS project in the Sleipner gas field in the North Sea pumped millions of tonnes of CO2 under the seabed since 1996. “This is a pioneering project, in that they have proven that it can be done on a large scale and over a long period of time, and that they can monitor it effectively,” said Davies. “But it’s not a test facility open to other organizations – it’s an Equinor project – and it’s in one type of rock formation.”

The government the net zero strategy anticipates 50 million tonnes of CO2 captured and stored by the mid-1930s, and ministers support the development of CSC centers on the north west and east coasts of England.

The CCC projects up to 95 million tonnes of CCS by 2050, mainly to capture CO2 of burnt biomass, which removes CO2 atmosphere, as well as gas-fired power stations and hydrogen production plants.

Energy company IGas owns around 100 oil and gas wells in England and its development director, Ross Glover, said CCS was a ‘key element’ in the company’s transition to a low-carbon economy. . He said IGas is branching out into geothermal and solar power, although he has not set a date to end oil and gas production.

Glover said industrial plants, cement plants and incinerators located inland, far from coastal CCS clusters, may be able to bury their carbon emissions in reused terrestrial sinks.

“[The government] has identified a series of transmitters along the backbone of the country that have, frankly, a problem moving forward. There is a real opportunity in and around the East Midlands for us, ”he said.

Mike Childs, Scientific Director of Friends of the Earth, said: “Research into CCS technology is important, but the embers of the potential of this technology could be eradicated if fossil fuel companies were allowed to use it to green their homes. climatic demolition. activity. Fossil fuel companies are always looking to extract more oil and gas.