I’m at the International Pipeline Conference in Calgary, Canada. It’s an amazing event – about 1150 delegates, 350 technical papers in over a dozen parallel streams, several in-depth tutorials and a number of specialised panel sessions.
On Monday I participated in the CO2 panel, talking about what Australia has been doing in preparation for CO2 pipelines. Through the RSC and the EPCRC we’ve prepared draft amendments to AS 2885 to provide rules and guidance on design of CO2 pipelines. And the EPCRC is expecting M$1.8 of federal funding for research on various aspects of CO2 pipelines, including:
- Equations of state for CO2 mixtures (captured CO2 will not be pure, and impurities can have major effect on properties)
- Fracture control (CO2 has very different decompression characteristics and fracture control is more difficult than for natural gas)
- Modelling of CO2 release and dispersion (so we can properly identify the consequences of a pipeline failure within a safety management study)
- Optimisation of moisture specification (traces of liquid water in CO2 are highly corrosive)
- Sociological aspects of pipeline approval and community perception (an extension to CO2 pipelines of the EPCRC program on the sociology of safety)
That’s a very diverse program. A team of people from the RSC and EPCRC identified those as areas of particular interest, without a great deal of consideration of what is being done overseas. However at the panel discussion it was most interesting to realise that just about everyone else in the world who is working on CO2 pipelines has identified the same issues, so it is gratifying that we are on the same wavelength.
And there is a huge amount of interest in CO2 pipelines around the world. I didn’t count the number of people attending the panel session but the large room was well-occupied – certainly well over 100 people, possibly nearly 200.
There are major programs of investigation and research in Canada, the USA, the UK and Europe. So there will be ample opportunities for the Australian researchers to collaborate with people working in the same areas overseas. I’ve been doing my best to establish some key contacts so I can introduce them to their counterparts in the EPCRC.
So far I don’t think anyone has actually built a major CO2 pipeline for carbon capture and storage (CCS). However Masdar in Abu Dhabu have completed FEED on an extensive system that will be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In Alberta a pipeline system for the same purpose is expected to begin construction next year (Alberta Carbon Trunk Line). Much of the discussion about CO2 capture was for EOR purposes, because it has an obvious financial payoff. Pure sequestration (into saline aquifers or depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs) seems most unlikely to be viable until there is a serious price or tax on carbon.
Overall it seems pretty clear that CO2 pipelines are going to have a big future. Keep an eye on it.