SCCS at Aquistore
Researchers from SCCS and UKCCSRC at the Aquistore site last week. Picture: Stephanie Flude
Canada's pioneering Aquistore project has begun carbon dioxide (CO₂) injection into a deep saline aquifer 3.4 kilometres below ground, and the team has been joined by researchers from the SCCS partnership, who are undertaking cutting-edge research into areas such as CO₂ "fingerprinting" and CO₂ storage monitoring.

The Aquistore project in Saskatchewan, managed by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC), aims to demonstrate the safe and permanent storage of CO₂ produced by emitters of the greenhouse gas, such as power plants and industrial facilities. The project will use CO₂ captured at utility company SaskPower's groundbreaking Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration project, which began operating at a coal-fired power plant last October.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have already been onsite to begin their own research into the use of natural tracers, such as isotopic composition and noble gases, to fingerprint CO₂ – a possible means of tracing CO₂ ownership in the event of a leakage from a storage site that has been used by multiple operators.

Dr Stuart Gilfillan's team from Edinburgh, Dr Stephanie Flude and Dr Sascha Serno, visited Saskatchewan last week to make a start on their EPSRC-funded project, which they hope will contribute to the development of CO₂ tracking without the need for expensive artificial tracers. The research will be relevant to future UK storage sites, particularly offshore saline aquifers which will be used to store large volumes of the UK's CO₂ emissions.

At the Boundary Dam CCS demonstration project. Picture: Stephanie Flude
A team of researchers from the University of Strathclyde were also at Aquistore to assist the research being undertaken by Dr Stella Pytharouli into the potential migration pathways of CO₂ within the storage site. This will inform future monitoring strategies at the Aquistore site and, more widely, at other storage sites in the future. Dr Pytharouli's research has been funded by the UK CCS Research Centre and will use 3D imaging of the reservoir, its caprock and overburden to monitor any micro-seismic events prior to, and during, CO₂ injection.

PTRC's Chief Executive Officer, Ken From, said:

PTRC is proud to announce the official start of Canada's first deep saline CO₂ storage project. Five years of hard work has culminated in today's announcement. Aquistore is building upon the wealth of CO₂ expertise in Saskatchewan, which started with the Weyburn Midale project in 2000. The support and investment of our federal and provincial governments and industry partners was integral to launching this world-class research project."

Prof Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said:

The start of CO₂ injection at the Aquistore site follows the success of IEAGHG and PTRC's Weyburn Midale project, which showed that the Weyburn oil reservoir could securely and economically contain CO₂. Injection at Aquistore is another first, with the chosen aquifer offering a large volume of safe and secure CO₂ storage. SCCS is pleased to be amongst the world's leading scientists making fundamental observations about injection and storage at these crucial early stages.

Aquistore is also designed to be a geological research laboratory, where multiple remote sensing techniques can be trialled, both at the surface and subsurface. Importantly, we will be able to detect the effects of CO₂ injection and monitor the behaviour of that CO₂. Some of the techniques tested here are likely to become standard practice at CO₂ injection sites worldwide.

Read PTRC's full announcement

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