In order to investigate the impacts on local ecosystems, a CO2 leakage is being simulated in the sea west of Scotland. Over one month thousands of kilos of CO2 will be pumped into a store 12m below the seabed, before a hole will be drilled to make it leak. The experiment, which started on 14 May, is led by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
SAMS, Plymouth Marine Lab and eight other research institutes are injecting 80 to 100 kg of CO2 per day into the seabed off Ardmucknish Bay. Once injection is complete and the leak is created, the seabed and sediment will be monitored for 90 days with sensors, acoustic techniques and seismic testing.
“The experiment is trying to understand what would happen to the ecosystem if there is a leak of CO2 from a CCS reservoir – either from the reservoir itself or from the point where you inject or the pipeline,” Dr Henrik Stahl, the principal investigator in marine biogeochemistry at SAMS, explained.
While overall improbable, leaks from CCS reservoirs are most likely to occur during injection and in relatively small amounts, making the experiment a realistic simulation of what could happen in a potential reservoir leakage.
The experiment will furthermore attempt to provide useful data for predicting and monitoring future leaks. Similar experiments on potential soil leaks are being undertaken by the University of Nottingham and British Geological Survey.