COTEC (years 2019-2022) is a multidisciplinary project on geological CO2 systems that targets the thresholds for detecting CO2 seeps in the subsurface, which are highly applicable in qualifying CO2 storage sites currently matured in the North Sea. COTEC bring together Norwegian universities (UiO, UNIS) and institutes (NGI, NORSAR) and four USA-based universities. In addition to research, an educational program includes one PhD, one Postdoc and 5-7 Masters.
The first datasets from the field area are starting to be ready now, despite delays related to COVID-19. A new period of fieldwork is planned for November, when our American colleagues can now begin to resume activities. Adaptation is being planned for all project staff and Norwegian MSc students to share datasets and perform analysis on available material.
Assessment of integrity of subsurface sequestration sites holding CO2 has been highlighted by the Smeaheia and Johansen prospect CO2 storage projects. We target a better understanding of seepage processes, where geological-geomechanical elements control flow across sealing rock units. Natural seeps are the easy accessible onshore counterparts to seismic chimneys; we will explore a natural CO2 leakage site (Utah, USA) to investigate the geological footprint and geophysical signatures of an active CO2 seal bypass systems in a new, truly novel approach, expanding on several past and ongoing projects. Observed flow and seep patterns, diagenetic status and rock strength assessments, summarized in 3D geo- and simulation models, will be used to investigate the geophysical signatures of CO2 flow along faults, by undertaking: (i) High-resolution outcrop studies, (ii) geomechanical analyses of fault materials acquired by drilling, (iii) 2D seismic investigation across the fault, (iv) monitoring of micro-seismic activity, (v) a synthetic seismic study. This integrated geological-geomechanical-geophysical-modelling bridges into de-risking of commercial storage projects, with significant learning potential of high relevance for application in North Sea storage projects.