New technology accelerates CO₂ storage

A new reservoir simulator for CO₂ storage will make it easier to simulate CO₂ storage. This can help speed up large-scale storage of CO₂ underground on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Sist oppdatert: Jan 24, 2022
Published Jan 19, 2022
Nordsjøen atle ekerhovd red
In order to store more CO₂ underground, new methods and tools are required. A new reservoir simulator will contribute to upscaling of storage capacity.

For carbon capture and storage (CCS) to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and meet global emission targets by the year 2050, we must scale up storage capacity from the current tens of millions of tonnes to gigatons. 1 gigatonne equals 1 billion tons.

1 gigatonne CO2 can provide enough storage capacity to decarbonize all cement factories in Scandinavia, Germany, France, and Poland combined. Put another way, it is equivalent to CO2 emissions offset by electrifying 15 million passenger cars.

In order to store more CO₂ underground, new methods and tools are required. NORCE, in collaboration with SINTEF and Equinor, has developed a reservoir simulator that will contribute to upscaling of storage capacity. The new CO₂ storage software module is available as part of the OPM Flow reservoir simulator.

Sarah Gasda 1
Sarah Gasda, research director in NORCE and project manager for HPC Simulation Software for the Gigatonne Storage Challenge.

"A reservoir simulator can be used, among other things, to find out which reservoir is best suited for CO₂ storage, as well as whether CO₂ will remain in the reservoir if it is stored there. It is important that simulators have undergone extensive testing such that industry can trust the results they get."

Sarah Gasda, research director in NORCE and project manager for HPC Simulation Software for the Gigatonne Storage Challenge.

The CO₂ storage simulator has advanced functionality to simulate storage on a gigaton scale. This enables operators to assess gigatons of CO₂ storage more efficiently and plan for large-scale field development.

Open access

The simulation tool is openly available and free of charge to the CCS community. All necessary user documentation, including tutorials and demonstration videos, will be provided by the project.

"It is important to have this type of software available openly and at no cost. Anyone who wants to can inspect every detail of the mathematical models, computational methods, and their implementation. This is important not only for building trust in the software, but also for accelerating technology development in this field", says Atgeirr Flø Rasmussen, senior research scientist at SINTEF.

"The advantage of developing OPM Flow in an open framework is that a wide variety of groups and organizations can contribute to the development and improvement of the software, making it even better. We have to work together on CO₂ storage, and the industry must be involved", says Tor Harald Sandve, senior researcher at NORCE.

Builds on decades of expertise

At NORCE, we build on decades of expertise in geology and reservoir technology in the work of finding safe and long-term solutions for storing CO₂ under the seabed. In NORCE, solutions for modeling the storage reservoirs are investigated.

The code development in the project is built on concepts developed in collaboration between industry, research, and administration, and is based on a close and long-term collaboration between NORCE, SINTEF, and Equinor in the development of an open industry compatible reservoir simulator.

The researchers are enthusiastic about the collaboration.

"Through mutual and committed cooperation over a long period of time, we have built valuable expertise, software, and a culture of cooperation. This will be important in contributing to realizing CO2 storage on the Norwegian continental shelf", says Rasmussen and Sandve.

Well suited for storage

The Norwegian continental shelf is particularly suitable for CO2 storage. Significant investments and measures have been made in Norway, Australia, the USA, and elsewhere to stimulate large-scale CCS and start a new industry in CO2 transport and storage.

Co2 lagring Sarah Gasda
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Illustration: Sarah Gasda

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The software OPM Flow can contribute to safe and long-term storage, and becomes important when we capture and store carbon on a large scale, such as in Longship. Longship is among the first projects in the world to develop infrastructure with the capacity to store significant amounts of CO2, deep under the seabed.

Longship is at the forefront of the technology considered by the UN and International Energy Agency (IEA) to be one of the most crucial for achieving climate goals.

Different types of reservoir

The researchers already have the plans ready for what they want to do next.

"We will look at more complex and challenging reservoirs. Reservoirs with a different type of physics, which presents a different type of challenge", says Gasda.

Promotes technology and competence

The project is a Gassnova CLIMIT Demo project. Gassnova was established by the authorities to promote technology development and competence building for CO2 capture and storage (CCS), in addition to being the Government's closest adviser in this field. Gassnova administers research and funding schemes via the CLIMT program and provides testing and demonstration of CCS technology at the Technology Center at Mongstad (TCM). Both CLIMIT and TCM are key components in the work of realizing Europe's first industrial project for carbon capture and storage, called Longship CCS. CLIMIT-Demo will provide financial support for the development and demonstration of technologies for CO2 management.

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