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The underground disposal of carbon dioxide


The objective of this project is:
1) to examine whether it is technically and economically feasible to dispose of industrial quantities of CO2 underground, and thus prevent it entering the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas;
2) to evaluate the optimum conditions for safe and permanent underground disposal of CO2,
3) the quantities of CO2 which might be disposed of in this way, and 4) the costs which this would involve.

The study demonstrated the feasibility and practicality of CO2 disposal underground. The first step is to separate the CO2 from the power station flue gas. This is the most costly part of the whole process - between 25 and 65 ECU per tonne of CO2 avoided, depending on the type of power plant. Storage could be in deep porous and permeable reservoir rocks, where the free CO2 would be in a dense, supercritical phase at depths of around 800 m or more. Shallow sub-surface storage is impractical. The study identified that approximately 800 GTm of CO2 storage capacity is available in the European Union and Norway (compared with current annual CO2 production from power stations of 1 GTm/year). Most of this is located under the North Sea. If, however, CO2 storage can be combined with enhanced oil recovery, then cost credits from the sale of recovered oil could totally defray the costs of CO2 recovery at power stations.
The project will be divided into six work areas:
1. Definition of the quality and quantity of CO2 likely to become available for disposal. This will: Define the trace element composition of CO2-dominated gas from fossil fuel-fired power plant. Define the operating conditions under which this gas is likely to be supplied for disposal. Assess the quantities of CO2 which could be supplied from European fossil fuel-fired power plant.

2. Potential storage capacity for underground disposal of CO2 in Europe. The potential storage capacity of hydrocarbon fields and aquifers will be determined for the following countries: UK, Eire, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece.

3. Evaluation of safety and stability problems. This will include a study of: Possible escape mechanisms. The potential effects of escapes. Methods of monitoring stored CO2.
Parameters that should be monitored during storage. Transport properties of CO2 in caprocks. Analysis and selection of geophysical techniques suitable to define the existence and geometry of a potential structure for CO2 disposal. Feasibility of microseismic monitoring.

4. Reservoir modelling and enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. Simulation of EOR from the injection of CO2 into oil fields. Comparison of CO2 injection with other methods of EOR.
Define ways of optimizing EOR and CO2 storage capacity in oil fields. Refine storage capacity estimates.

5. Inorganic Geochemistry. Analysis of chemical and physical effects of CO2 injection into potential reservoirs.

6. Techno-economic modelling. This will develop a general model which can be used to evaluate the economics of underground disposal of CO2 in onshore or offshore aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


NERC British Geological Survey
Nicker Hill
NG12 5GG Keyworth
United Kingdom

Participants (7)

Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM)
Avenue Du Concyr
45060 Orléans
United Kingdom
Common Road
NG17 2NS Nottingham
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek
501,Laan Van Westenenk 501
7300 AH Apeldoorn
Kruppstrasse 5
45128 Essen
S. P. Andersens Vei 15B
7465 Trondheim
Statoil R&D Centre
10,Arkitekt Ebbells Veg
7005 Trondheim
University of Sunderland
United Kingdom
Ryhope Road
SR2 7EE Sunderland