An international collaborative research initiative funded by the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) got underway at CMC’s Field Research Station in July with the arrival of three University of Bristol seismologists.
Drs. Anna Stork, Anna Horleston and Prof. Michael Kendall were at the site, located 20 km southwest of Brooks, installing three broadband seismometers to record seismic events over the next year. The project was one of four awarded funds by the UKCCSRC to support international collaborative research at the field research station (FRS), a site being developed in affiliation with the University of Calgary.
Collaborative initiatives important
Don Lawton, Director of CMC’s Containment and Monitoring Institute and a professor of geophysics at the University of Calgary, says the collaborative program will help advance research to ensure CO2 can be stored securely in large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) operations.
“Collaborative initiatives like the one funded by the UKCCSRC are important for the long-term development and commercialization of CCS. By sharing data and results researchers will be able to offer industry and government regulators best codes of practice for the long-term monitoring of stored CO2,” said Lawton, adding, “We look forward to working with our colleagues from the UK.”
Initiative marks a milestone
Jon Gibbins, UKCCSRC director, says international collaboration plays an important role accelerating the development of technologies to facilitate the global transition to low carbon energy systems.
“UKCCSRC very much appreciates CMC Research Institutes sharing this unique facility with researchers overseas. This collaboration marks another significant milestone in the close working relationship between UKCCSRC and CMC Research Institutes.”
Stork is excited to have the opportunity to work at the unique facility. There are CCS projects around the world injecting CO2 kilometres below the surface and there are surface test sites. However, the FRS is only research site where CO2 will be injected in the subsurface at relatively the shallow depths of 300 and 500 metres.
“We haven’t previously had the opportunity to study any CO2 injection this shallow,” says Stork, “and working out what happens if CO2 gets to these depths and how you can detect it is very important. We need to determine what methods are most suitable for monitoring at shallow depths.”
This was Stork’s second trip to the FRS. In May 2015, she toured the site and observed as the University of Calgary’s Dave Eaton and a team of postdoctoral researchers learned to install and operate a down-hole microseismic cable system. As well, researchers from the Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology project undertook a vertical seismic profile experiment using the down-hole cable.
Seismometers record large and small events
Stork’s project will see a total of seven broadband seismometers installed at distances ranging from 200 metres to three kilometers from the site’s two injection wells. The extremely sensitive seismometers will detect local microseismic events, some so small their energy is the equivalent of a pad of paper falling off a desk. They are also capable of recording large earthquakes occurring on the other side of the world.
Barring any power or equipment failures, the seismometers will run continuously for the next year with data used to map the underground structures in the area. The recordings will also provide baseline information on the naturally occurring background rate of seismic events in the area. This information will be compared to microseismic activity after injection starts in 2016 to determine which events are the result of injection operations and which are natural.
Other funded projects
The three other projects were funded through the UKCCSRC’s special call are:
Dr. Stuart Gilfillan, University of Edinburgh
Sampling and noble gas analysis of subsurface fluid samples from the CMC Field Research Station
Dr. James White, British Geological Survey
Testing and validation of a 3D time-lapse seismic data tool at the CMC Field Research Station.
Dr. Sam Krevor, Imperial College London
Observations of relative permeability and residual trapping from core-flood measurements at reservoir conditions on core samples from the CMC Field Research Station