Visit of the CO2CRC Otway pilot project in Australia

In August 2009, Michel Malo visited the first pilot project of the Australian research organization CO2CRC in the state of Victoria, southeast Australia. The Otway research project focuses on geological storage processes and on geochemical and geophysical monitoring techniques for CO2 storage.

The project facilities are located above a depleted gas reservoir into which CO2 is injected at supercritical state at a depth of more than 2,000 meters.

A new injection well was completed in February 2010 for future CO2 injections into a deep saline formation at a depth of 1,500 m. These injections will be used to further evaluate the mechanisms and capabilities of CO2 storage in deep saline formations.

The project is coordinated by CO2CRC, the Australian collaborative CCS research organization. As part of a joint venture, several research institutions, universities and industries from Australia and New Zealand take part in the project. Several other countries, including the United States and Canada, also participate.

The AU$40M (approximately CAD$37M) funding for the project is provided by several entities, including CO2CRC members, the Australian Federal Government, the Government of the state of Victoria where the project takes place, and the US Department of Energy.

The project was initiated in 2005, and the injection of CO2 began in 2008. By September 2010, over 65,000 tonnes of CO2-rich gas had been injected into the depleted gas reservoir. More injections are planned as part of ongoing research projects.

The gas, a mix of CO2 (80 %) and methane (20 %) produced from a natural CO2 reservoir, is transported to the injection site by a 2-km pipeline.

The site essentially consists of a CO2 conditioning system, a CO2 compressor to bring the CO2 at supercritical state, equipments to monitor the CO2 injection parameters, 2 wells (one injection well and one monitoring well), and geochemical and geophysical monitoring systems.

An operator in the on-site control centre constantly oversees the injection of CO2 (gas parameters are displayed in real time on monitors), and also monitors and maintains the site. The control centre also has a small conference room where visiting groups can learn more about the project and CO2 storage.

The following pictures show the facilities and the small amount of space required by the infrastructure for a pilot project investigating the geological storage of CO2.

For more information, please visit the project website.