IRIS and UiS have for several decades been researching academic fields that are important in developing technology for effective and safe carbon storage. Our researchers are experts in increasing oil recovery, drilling and well technology, and risk analysis. This expertise will be needed if the technology for injecting and storing CO2 in the sea bed is to be improved.
The researchers' areas of expertise include geology, reservoir characterisation and flow. They take measurements and perform simulations in the laboratory, and create models to develop safe methods for the long-term storage of CO2, and optimise CO2 storage in connection with IOR — increased oil recovery.
In the majority of Norwegian oil fields, water or gas is currently injected to maintain the pressure in the reservoirs (geological structures containing oil and gas). As water infiltrates the reservoir, this raises the pressure and forces the oil towards the wells at the same time. Laboratory trials have shown that the injection of CO2 together with water effectively increases the recovery rate.
Important research fields for IRIS and UiS include the use of polymers, gels and silicates in the injection water to improve the macroscopic displacement effect in order to extract more oil from the reservoirs. Researchers are also considering the use of foam to improve the hydrocarbon gas and CO2 injection.
A resource in the transition to green energy
Effective oil recovery and a transition to sustainable energy are not necessarily incompatible. The green transition will take time and there is little benefit in stopping oil production from one day to the next. We need to reduce oil production at a sensible rate, and, during this transitional phase, knowledge and research regarding the way in which existing oil fields can be utilised more effectively and sustainably will be vital.
The storage of CO2 in connection with increased oil recovery in the North Sea may be important in terms of both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating additional resources for Norway in the transition to green energy.
CO2 storage for increased recovery
CO2 management is key for Norway to achieve its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared with 1990. The capture and storage of CO2 is not profitable in itself, but storage combined with increased oil recovery may be profitable, both economically and environmentally.
The North Sea has extensive areas of geological formations that contain seawater that is suitable for CO2 storage. Mature fields that have been in operation for many years may also benefit from CO2 injection. However, Norway currently has insufficient CO2 to implement projects for increased oil recovery through CO2 injection.
Nevertheless, Norway has considerable scope to offer assistance with the storage of CO2 from the rest of Europe. The prerequisites for this are an efficient transport solution and political willingness.
Onshore CO2 storage
A number of projects worldwide are providing us with steadily increasing knowledge and expertise concerning the capture, utilisation and storage of CO2. For example, several projects have investigated the conditions for CO2 storage in the Ekofisk field, and IRIS is participating in an international research project (REPP-CO2) investigating the potential for storage in a landfill in the Czech Republic.
Through the CO2 GeoNet network, IRIS is working with European research communities to limit environmental changes. The network has recently been awarded a major research project (ENOS) aimed at facilitating onshore CO2 storage in Europe.