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Setting the standard for CCUS

Oilfield Technology,

Regardless of which ‘side’ of the climate debate you sit on, I think we would all agree that carbon capture and storage (or sequestration) (CCS) is an essential part of the climate change discussion. I think we would also agree that the vast majority of those in the CCS industry believe that the use and acceptance of CCS has to be expanded. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is leading the way in the short-term doing the early heavy lifting. However, the early entry of CCS by EOR is limited to the EOR producing regions of the US and Canada, as well as to funding or economics that make the use of CCS possible. Better put, in the short-term, CCS cannot exist without EOR.

Combining CCS with EOR using CO2 injection (CO2-EOR) can help produce more oil from mature oil fields, while economically sequestering CO2. This combination can provide significant benefits; especially if value-added opportunities for productively using captured CO2 from power generation is encouraged and pursued.

Significant expansion of oil production utilising CO2-EOR, both in the US and globally, will require volumes of CO2 that cannot be met by natural CO2 sources alone. Thus, not only does CCS need CO2-EOR to help promote economic viability for CCS, but CO2-EOR needs CCS to ensure adequate CO2 supplies to facilitate growth in production from CO2-EOR projects. To this end, the US Department of Energy has rebranded CCS to include the ‘utilisation’ of carbon dioxide for the added extraction of additional hydrocarbon recovery – CO2-EOR, suggesting that CCS is now CCUS – carbon capture ‘utilisation’ and storage.

In order to expand the acceptance, and more importantly the deployment of CCUS beyond EOR, pilot, and first of a kind installations – and more importantly to deploy CCUS in developing economies – CCUS needs help on several fronts. The first assistance comes from the recent developments within the IPCC that allow for CCS as part of a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM allows developing economies the opportunity for funding assistance to apply greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and climate change reduction technologies, and for this work to be recognised internationally – through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Most of the CCS roadmaps generated by non-governmental organisations (NGO) across virtually all geographies acknowledge the need to expand CCS. If most agree that CCS is needed and CDM is a viable option to allow needed financing for developing countries to implement this ‘required GHG portfolio technology’, why hasn’t it occurred yet?

With the obvious issues of funding in today’s economic times, one remaining impediment in international movement of CCS is a result of very difficult and sometimes protracted international agreements and a lack of international CCS standards. In the present economic climate of government budget cuts, there are always questions of funding and timing.

So how do we get there?

In autumn 2010, several dozen experts from the US and Canada met for two days in Calgary to begin ‘the first step’ in the international standardisation of geological storage of CO2. This idea produced the world’s first formally recognised CCS standard for commercial deployment.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the International Performance Assessment Centre for CO2 assembled the group of experts with full CCUS project life cycle knowledge and experience, representing a balance of stakeholder interests. These experts came from industry, E&P’s, government, consulting, NGOs and academia. Their areas of expertise cover management, siting, engineering, risk, closure and operations. The completed standard, known as Z-741, has been approved by the Standards Council of Canada and has become the seed document for the Organization of International Standardization (ISO) TC-265: carbon dioxide capture, transportation, and geological storage committee.

ISO established the Technical Committee TC-265 and the first meeting was held in Paris in June 2012. The objective of the technical committee is to develop and secure a global consensus on a uniform set of rules and criteria that can appropriately, dependably and efficiently be applied to CCS projects. This set of uniform rules may take the form of prescriptive, objective, principled, or performance based criteria or some hybrid combination thereof. TC-265 committee is chaired by Canada, with twinned secretariat support provided by China. There are 16 participating (or voting or “P”-member) countries, 10 observing (non-voting) countries and six liaison or non-voting organisations (NGO).

TC-265 has only three short years to develop this framework. Since the kick-off meeting in Paris last summer, participating countries have submitted a proposal to lead working groups within the TC-265 committee. The countries reconvened 4 – 5 February 2013 in Madrid and five working groups were established, scopes of work and individual Secretariats or ‘conveners’ of the working groups were determined.

The scope of the capture working group, led by Japan, will focus largely on post-, pre-, and oxyfuel combustion capture processes; industrial processes; separation; purification; dehydration; compression and pumping; liquefaction; installation; operation; maintenance; quality of CO2 streams; performance evaluation (capture rate, energy consumption, emissions, reliability, and safety); monitoring; management systems; and plant retrofitting.

The transportation working group, led by Germany, will focus on pipelines not currently covered by existing ISO/TC-67 standards, ship, road, rail, health, safety and environment (HSE) aspects specific to transport, and monitoring.

The storage working group has split leadership with Canada focusing on onshore and Japan focusing on offshore. The specific scope of the working group will focus on storage in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, saline aquifers, other storage options, site selection, site characterisation, risk assessment, risk management, well construction, procedures and conditions for closure, storage leakage avoidance and remediation, post-closure requirements, and storage monitoring.

The quantification and verification working group also has split leadership with China leading the group and support provided by France. The scope of the quantification and verification working group will include project boundary, project leakage, quantification procedures, CO2 quantification, monitoring and reporting, third party verification, quantification of CO2 avoided, detection limits, and life cycle analysis.

The last working group, cross-cutting issues also has split leadership with France leading the group supported by China. The scope of the cross-cutting working group will focus specifically on terminology, system integration (full value chain), overall risk management, relationship and consultation with stakeholders, and public engagement, reporting, and mixing of gas streams from different sources.

The next steps will be a general call for technical experts to join the five working groups. Countries that are voting or P-member nations may identify and add technical experts as necessary.

Where is the US and what does this mean for CCS?

The Z-741 standard developed by the Canadian Standards Association was provided to both the Standards Council of Canada and the American National Standards Council (ANSI). The Canadian organisation approved the standard while ANSI did not. The lack of approval by ANSI, which is the representative body to ISO, seemingly led to the US not participating at the June kick off meeting in Paris. I was asked to attend the Madrid TC-265 meetings as the Head of Delegation representing the US. This signaled ANSI’s desire to participate in the process which was met with great appreciation by the other P-member countries.

The Canadian Standards Association’s American arm, CSA-Standards, has officially requested accreditation from ANSI as Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator. If this accreditation is granted, this will then allow the US to participate in the next steps, which include a general call for technical experts to join the five working groups.

The US participation in the TC-265 process is important for several reasons. First, the vast majority of EOR experience worldwide is contained within the US, based on the experience of the US Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships, a large portion of the ‘non-EOR’ CCS experience also lies within the US. In order for this vast wealth of expertise to participate on the TC-265 working groups, it is anticipated that the CSA-Standards TAG accreditation request will be granted and the US can then appoint these experts to participate on the five working groups.

A recent study by the US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL) concludes that ‘next generation’ CO2-EOR can provide 135 billion barrels of additional technically recoverable oil in the US. In order to realise this result, some 17 billion t of CO2 will need to be purchased by CO2-EOR operators to recover the economically recoverable oil. The CO2 required to supply this market - 17 billion t - is equivalent to the GHG emissions from 91 large one GW size coal-fired power plants over 30 years.

A recent study by Advanced Resources International for the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Program (IEA GHG) assessed the CO2-EOR and CO2 storage potential of the largest 54 oil basins in the world. The assessment concluded that 50 of these basins have reservoirs amenable to miscible CO2-EOR. Assuming ‘state-of-the-art’ technology, oil fields in just the largest discovered fields in these basins (those greater than 50 million barrels of original oil in place) have the potential to produce 470 billion barrels of additional oil, and store 140 billion t of CO2.

EOR will continue to lead the way as an early entrant into the CCS project world. CO2-EOR provides an opportunity to address both climate and energy security. The role of government in the world-view of CCS is very important. Without the financial incentives provided by the governments around the globe, the rollout of numerous large-scale CCS projects is not likely. Promoting CO2 storage via CO2-EOR can provide large new revenues to those participants in the value chain – thereby taking a ‘second step’.

CCS has to evolve into CCUS. Assuming that ISO TC-265 international standard becomes a reality to allow developing economies to enter the CCUS game, CCS can remain an attractive alternative for GHG mitigation.


Written by Steve Carpenter, Vice President, Advanced Resources International, Inc. (ARI).

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