Stanford article on CCS dangers rebutted

Publish date: June 20, 2012

Written by: Kristina Östman

The claims made by researchers Mark Zoback and Steven Gorelick in PNAS on 18 June, that CO2 storage can trigger earthquakes, have been countered by Bruce Hill, Senior Staff Geologist at Clean Air Task Force (CATF). Hill lays out a list of counterarguments, pointing to loopholes in the Stanford researchers’ reasoning and quoting research made by other highly respected universities.

The opinion article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) seeks to cast doubt on the safety of CO2 storage. The authors highlight the importance of considering seismic activity for siting, permitting and managing CO2 storage sites and arrive at a very pessimistic conclusion about the achievable safety. As pointed out by Hill in his rebuttal, the researchers fail to fully account for the multiple geologic storage options that when taken together indicate a much more optimistic outlook of long-term safety of CO2 storage.

Over 1 billion tonne of CO2 has already been safely injected into depleted oil fields for enhanced oil recovery in the United States since the 1970’s. According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, at least 20 billion additional tonnes of CO2 could be injected into such fields. These projects, along with other CO2 injection projects globally, are closely monitored for any resulting seismic activity. To date, none has been reported.

At Bellona we fully recognise the importance of seismicity and careful selection of suitable sites for CO2 storage. We appreciate the Stanford researchers bringing attention to this issue, but strongly disagree with their conclusions about the pessimistic outlook of geologic CO2 storage.

Even more research is needed in this topic, but the evidence is already there. We are convinced by the potential of CCS to be a safe and sustainable solution for dramatically reducing CO2 emissions globally.

More News

All news

The role of CCS in Germany’s climate toolbox: Bellona Deutschland’s statement in the Association Hearing

After years of inaction, Germany is working on its Carbon Management Strategy to resolve how CCS can play a role in climate action in industry. At the end of February, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action published first key points and a proposal to amend the law Kohlenstoffdioxid Speicherungsgesetz (KSpG). Bellona Deutschland, who was actively involved in the previous stakeholder dialogue submitted a statement in the association hearing.

Project LNG 2.

Bellona’s new working paper analyzes Russia’s big LNG ambitions the Arctic

In the midst of a global discussion on whether natural gas should be used as a transitional fuel and whether emissions from its extraction, production, transport and use are significantly less than those from other fossil fuels, Russia has developed ambitious plans to increase its own production of liquified natural gas (LNG) in the Arctic – a region with 75% of proven gas reserves in Russia – to raise its share in the international gas trade.