Storage of CO2 is considered an important way of mitigating the global climate challenge, and the Norwegian North Sea areas may give room for a central storage for Northern Europe. The COPASS project has been a fundamental contribution to this activity in the form of research on how CO2 changes the properties of reservoir rocks it is stored in. The project has focused on how CO2 flows through sandstones with different porosity, and with different fracture patterns.
To learn more about CO2 flow, the project team has used an area in Utah (USA) as a natural laboratory. We combine the observations in outcrops with an area where naturally formed CO2 leaks out today. This information provides knowledge about CO2's flow and impact on sandstones at 1000-2000 m depth.
The work started in 2015 in collaboration with several Norwegian and American project partners, who together have contributed broad expertise in various relevant disciplines that are important for storing CO2 in the underground.
The work continued through 2016-2018 with the collection and analysis of data that has given several sets of results for all the partners in the project. The results have been published in scientific journals and presented in national and international conferences.
Now that the project has ended, 11 MSc students and a PhD student have completed their project assignments on the Utah data set, and a new generation of geologists with CO2 as their field of specialty has been trained. The interdisciplinary aspect of the project has been decisive throughout the period, since CO2 storage requires deep insight into many geological sub-disciplines.
A new project is now in its earliest phase, which will investigate more closely how a large fracture system in Utah affects the flow of CO2 in the subsurface.
Technology related to geological sequestration of CO2 is steadily maturing towards a stage where it may provide a significant means for mitigating global emissions - this in spite of public skepticism and a shortage of incentives to develop CO2 storage into a profitable venture. We will explore subsurface storage formation dynamics by addressing CO2 plumbing systems of reservoirs and caprocks, as a fundamental knowledge need in the work targeting large-scale CO2 storage in the North Sea. The proposed project integrates observations from actively leaking and former, exhumed reservoir-seal systems employing field, laboratory and reservoir modelling studies. The aim is to implement observed flow and leakage patterns combined with observed diagenetic status and rock strength assessments in 3D simulation models. The outcome will be valuable for CO2 storage site assessment by aiding containment planning, leakage prevention and mitigation.