The Qatar Carbonates and Storage Research Centre which combines the international expertise of Shell, the local knowledge and expertise of Qatar Petroleum, the resources, assistance and strategic advice of Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), and the research strengths of Imperial College London, is at the forefront of research on CCS. The research undertaken is primarily focused on the storage of CO2 in carbonates, which is the sedimentary rock type most frequently encountered in oil fields in the Middle East region. The Middle East has 62% of the world’s proved conventional oil reserves of which approximately 70% are in carbonate reservoirs. Moreover, the region has 40% of the world’s proven gas reserves of which 90% lie in carbonate reservoir. This highlights the importance of the QCCSRC’s research efforts in the CCS technology for the region.
“One of the revolutionary new things we are doing is using X-rays to look inside deep underground rocks to see how the fluids are redistributed, how they move and conditions of temperature and pressure. The pore spaces in the deep underground rocks are full of salty water. You inject the CO2 which pushes the water away and then you want to make sure that it never escapes. That is what we are trying to look at. We reproduce what is happening underground and see what sort of fundamental physics underpin the storage processes. We have shown that CO2 gets dispersed in little bubbles in the spaces in the rocks. Our results have shown that CO2 can be held deep underground – you can have safe, secure storage” said Martin Blunt, Professor of Petroleum Engineering at the department of Earth Science and Engineering of Imperial College London.
Professor Blunt, however, also pointed out that the storing of CO2 in deep underground rocks is just one aspect of a process that involves capturing and transporting the CO2 to the requisite facilities. Most of the challenges are above the surface in the form of lacking financial and legislative measures. Nevertheless, he highlighted the importance of advancing efforts in the technology by saying that “It is a price worth paying when compared to the cost to the environment due to global warming and its impacts”.