The impaCt of hydrOcarbon depletioN on the Treatment of cAprocks within performance assessment for CO2 InjectioN schemes - CONTAIN

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Energy & Marine Geoscience

Abstract

The UK is committed to meeting stringent carbon dioxide emission targets over the next 35 years. One potentially valuable technology in achieving this target is the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies, where carbon dioxide is captured during power generation and, instead of being released into the atmosphere, is injected into porous rocks underground. Porous rocks, such as sandstone, can act as a 'reservoir' for CO2, which can potentially be stored at depth over long periods of time and kept isolated from the rocks above by a much less porous 'caprock'. The UK has a large 'porosity resource', currently estimated to be of sufficient capacity to store the necessary 2-5 billion tonnes of CO2 to meet 2050 CO2 emission targets. It has been estimated that up to 9 billion tonnes of UK storage capacity come from reservoirs that previously contained hydrocarbons, which have been extracted by the oil and gas industry. This form of CO2 storage has a number of benefits, as the rocks are generally well characterised and there may be pre-existing infrastructure (such as pipelines) suitable for adaption to CO2 injection.

However, the process of hydrocarbon extraction, or 'depletion', can significantly impact both the reservoir involved and the surrounding rocks. These activities can potentially cause deformation, movement on faults and/or damage to infrastructure. However, the long term impacts of these activities, particularly when the reservoir is 're-inflated' during injection of CO2, are not well understood and there is limited physical data for specific rock types and scenarios. In order for depleted reservoirs to become a viable national resource, these uncertainties must be addressed. As such, this project is focussed on providing a better understanding of the impact of depletion and reinflation on reservoir and caprock material. It will involve a combined approach, using both laboratory experiments and computer simulation to improve our understanding of this aspect of storage site behaviour. The project seeks to address this key area with a focussed programme of work that will generate a much-needed and unique data-set, new modelling tools and a fuller understanding of the processes involved. The findings will inform regulators and aid operators in reducing the financial and environmental risks of CCS, for depleted storage sites, making the technology more likely to happen.

In addition, work will be carried out to examine effective communication with the public, relating to this new technology. Social acceptability represents a major potential barrier to CCS developments, as indicated by protests and moratoria in several countries. It is therefore critical to understand public attitudes and the bases of concern about CCS, and work as effectively as possible to improve understanding and engagement. Work within this project will explore the factors that determine public and stakeholder understanding and acceptability of CCS storage proposals. The lessons and knowledge derived from this work will be summarised in an outreach and engagement toolkit, which will be disseminated to regulators, operators and communication specialists.

Planned Impact

1. Who will benefit from this work and how?
Energy and related industries: Companies engaging with CCS technologies will gain insights into storage risks and solutions, and how social barriers to CCS deployment may be overcome through effective public engagement. Other potential beneficiaries include firms developing controversial or novel energy technologies (e.g. shale gas) who will be able to use the project outcomes to understand public concerns and use effective engagement methods.
Policy community: UK Government and other organisations associated with the policy process (e.g. Ofgem, Environment Agency) also stand to benefit. This research will provide novel and robust empirical findings relating to CCS risks and benefits, and tools and methods to mitigate social barriers to deployment.
General public and cluster communities: There may also be wider public benefits in terms of increasing awareness of energy systems and policies, and of the potential role of CCS in meeting requirements for a sustainable energy system.
Academic community: This project will advance research in various fields (e.g. psychology, geomechanics, multiphase flow and reservoir modelling). Strong links with UKCCSRC research programmes, as well as other RCUK energy programmes (including UKERC), will ensure that these contributions are fully utilised.

2. What will be done to ensure that they have the opportunity to benefit from this work?
An engaged scholarship approach will be achieved through the following activities:
(a) Executive Group: To guide research ensuring salience and timeliness, we will convene an Executive Group consisting of work package leaders, Shell, and where appropriate, representatives from policy, industry and EPSRC.
(b) Stakeholder/public interviews, survey and workshops: This research will seek to understand societal perspectives on CCS and feed this into project outputs. Interviews, survey and workshops, will elicit stakeholder and public understandings and perceptions. Project deliverables include a toolkit of tested engagement methods and communication recommendations.
(c) Stakeholder briefings: Electronic briefings will be published bi-annually to provide tailored information in a timely fashion.
(d) Conferences: We will present our work at major UK and international conferences in the relevant areas.
(e) Academic publications: Our research will be published in disciplinary high-impact peer-reviewed journals, including a major synthesis paper, integrating findings from across the project.
(f) Internet portal: A web-based portal will be set up at the beginning of the project, to include details of project activities, outputs and briefings.
(g) Public dissemination event: To disseminate our research and gain further feedback, we will participate in the British Science Festival in September 2016, where we will present our findings and encourage public debate about their implications.
(h) Stakeholder dissemination event: Finally, industry, policy and other UKCCSRC stakeholders will be invited to a final workshop to disseminate project findings, held at a suitable UK venue.

3. Who will undertake these activities?
The project team will share responsibility for delivering impact activities. BGS will have lead responsibility for Executive Group liaison and coordinating meetings; and maintaining the internet portal. CU will lead on the stakeholder and public interviews, survey and workshops, as well as organising the public dissemination event. IC will publish the stakeholder briefings and arrange the stakeholder dissemination workshop.

4. Summary of resources
Costs associated with facilitating the inputs of the Executive Group, workpackage activities, development of stakeholder briefings, attendance at UK and international conferences, development and maintenance of the project internet portal, and the dissemination of our results are included in the costs submitted with this proposal.

Publications


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Defoort T. (2015) A finite element geomechanical study of the brittle failure of a caprock due to deflation in 49th US Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium 2015
Salimzadeh S (2017) Three-dimensional poroelastic effects during hydraulic fracturing in permeable rocks in International Journal of Solids and Structures
Salimzadeh S. (2016) Thermal effects during hydraulic fracturing in low-permeability brittle rocks in 50th US Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium 2016
 
Title A novel 3D thermo-hydro-mechanical finite element code 
Description A novel three-dimensional thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) finite element code has been developed and validated. It contains a novel iterative solution method that combines thermoporoelastic deformation, fracture growth, and frictional forces acting along fracture faces that are in contact. Fractures are allowed to grow across material boundaries, thus enabling simulations of fracture growth from the reservoir into the overlying caprock. Simulations of depletion of the Goldeneye reservoir in the UK Central North Sea are now being performed with this new code. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This model represents a step-forward in simulating such processes and will allow simulation of scenarios in potential storage sites, providing insights of value to academics and operators alike. This will, in turn, enable improved performance assessment for CCS sites, reducing the risks of potential leakage and increasing viability of this nascent industry. 
 
Title CCS expert survey 
Description Following the qualitative expert interviews conducted during the previous year, we undertook a CCS expert survey during May-June 2016 to explore in more detail perceptions of risks and benefits associated with CCS and the perceived role of public engagement in CCS roll out. This survey elicited 99 complete responses from experts across a range of countries and backgrounds working in the field of CCS. Interview and survey analysis are being finalised and will form the basis of a mixed methods journal article. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Impacts are currently minimal, but are expected to increase after publication. Survey data will be made freely available by publication later in the year and this should provide valuable insight for those involved in public engagement in the sector, thereby impacting academics, policy-makers, operators and, ultimately, the public themselves. 
 
Title Hydromechanical properties of the Mercia Mudstone Group 
Description We have collected a detailed data-set examining the hydromechanical properties of the Mercia Mudstone Group, a key caprock material for CCS in the UK. This data represents a rare source for parameterisation for performance assessment simulations, not just within this important material, but also within caprock material in general. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Impacts are currently minimal, but are expected to increase after publication. Experimental data will be made freely available by publication later in the year and this should provide valuable insight for those seeking to parameterise numerical simulations of caprock behaviour at potential CCS sites (including Southern North Sea and the East Irish Basin), thereby improving performance assessment and reducing operational risk. 
 
Title Hydromechanical properties of the Sherwood Sandstone 
Description We have collected a detailed data-set examining the hydromechanical properties of the Sherwood sandstone, an onshore analogue for a key reservoir formation for CCS in the UK. This data represents a rare source for parameterisation of performance assessment simulations. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Impacts are currently minimal, but are expected to increase after publication. Experimental data will be made freely available by publication later in the year and this should provide valuable insight for those seeking to parameterise numerical simulations of reservoir behaviour at potential UK CCS sites (including Southern North Sea and the East Irish Basin), thereby improving performance assessment and reducing operational risk. Combined within further data, currently being collected, an important resource for estimating the influence of reservoir heterogeneity on hydromechanical properties (constraining factors such as injectivity and operational limits) will be made available to the UK community. 
 
Description A finite element geomechanical study of the brittle failure of caprock due to deflation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation at high-standing international conference (49th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium) describing findings and implications of research from CONTAIN. The meeting audience included academics, professionals and industrial representative in the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Accurate element-based modelling of fracutre growth and interactionm in three dimensions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dissemination of project findings to students and academics at the Department of Mathematics at the University of Bergen.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Annual meeting with project executive board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Project researchers met with members of the CONTAIN Executive Board - an invited panel of experts within the CCS sector. Each work package presented progress to date and initial findings and the Executive Board were given the opportunity to comment and suggest future actions in relation to both technical and wider aspects of the research project. The board were generally very positive, with regards to the current direction of the project and provide useful comments and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Engaging the public with CCS: learning from experts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation at high-standing national network meeting (UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre specialist meeting, 'CCS in the UK: Moving forward', Manchester, 2016) describing findings and implications of research from CONTAIN. The meeting audience included academics, policy-makers, professionals and industrial representative in the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Experimentally Determined Transport and Consolidation Properties of the Mercia Mudstone Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation at high-standing international conference (Second EAGE Workshop on Geomechanics and Energy, Porto, Portugal) describing findings and implications of research from CONTAIN. The meeting is predominantly attended by industrial operators in the hydrocarbons/CCS sectors, as we as other professional practitioners and academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Experts' views on engaging the public with CCS. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Dissemination of CONTAIN findings and implications at a at high-standing international Conference (Society for Risk Analysis, Europe). The meeting audience included academics, as well as those working in the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Learning from experts on public with CCS: learning from experts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Dissemination of CONTAIN findings and implications at a at high-standing international Conference (European Geosciences assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria). The meeting audience included academics, as well as those working in the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Numerical modelling of 3D fracture propagation and gragmentation in brittle rocks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dissemination of project findings to early career scientists and other academics as part of the hydrogeology seminar series at Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://h2ogeo.upc.edu/en/seminars-hydrogeology/171-seminar-numerical-3d-fracture-propagation-fragmen...
 
Description Numerical modelling of fracture growth and caprock integrity during CO2 injection 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation at high-standing national network meeting (UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre specialist meeting on Gephysical Modelling for CO2 Storage, Monitoring and Appraisal, Leeds) describing findings and implications of research from CONTAIN. The meeting audience included academics, professionals and industrial representative in the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Orkney Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The first talk was aimed at the general public and interested industry specialists. This were followed by a large number of questions and discussion about UK energy needs. The second talk provided information to high school students in relation to their up and coming energy focussed projects.

Follow-up visits are not practical given geographic constraints. However, a number of follow-up e-mails were received and an invitation to return to the Festival next year was received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation introducing CONTAIN at the UKCCSRC Biannual Meeting, Cranfield 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited talk at the Biannual meeting of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage network meeting, describing project objectives and progress. The audience included a wide range of stakeholders from within the CCS sector, including policy makers, industry representatives, academics and NGOs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Project progress meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Annual project progress meeting with all partners. Project researchers met to discuss progress. Each work package presented progress to date and initial findings, followed by useful discussion, focus on deliverables and discussion of next steps/planned published outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Project web page 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Web pages were developed and published to provide information on project aims and objectives. Where appropriate future project outputs will be posted here for general dissemination purposes.

The impact is that the web page is now providing information on the project for interested parties.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bgs.ac.uk/co2contain/home.html
 
Description Researcher workshop (Shrewsbury) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In May 2016, CONTAIN researchers convened a researcher workshop in Shrewsbury to share findings and coordinate approaches between social science researchers on several RCUK CCS (or related) projects, including CONTAIN, DiSECCS and Co2IS, that include a public perceptions component. This was helpful for refining our ideas for the final stage of the CONTAIN project and avoiding overlap with other work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Thermal effects during hydraulic fracturing in low-permeability brittle rocks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation at high-standing international conference (50th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, Houston) describing findings and implications of research from CONTAIN. The meeting audience included academics, professionals and industrial representative in the sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016