$100m Otway Research Facility

An innovative, world-leading project is underway in south-western Victoria demonstrating that carbon capture and storage is a technically and environmentally safe way to make deep cuts into global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Otway research facility

CO2CRC’s Otway research facility is Australia’s first demonstration of the deep geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common greenhouse gas. The project provides technical information on the injection, storage and monitoring of carbon that will influence national policy and industry while providing assurance to the community.

The $100m project is of global significance because:

  • It is the world’s largest carbon capture and storage demonstration project; with over 80,000 tonnes of CO2 injected and stored in a variety of geological formations; and
  • It includes an internationally renowned monitoring program that tests advanced technologies and techniques with the aim of reducing cost. The program is the most comprehensive of its type in the world.

Lessons learned from the project, are shared with our partners globally.

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The facility demonstrates that carbon capture and storage is safe, cost-effective and meets the expectations of government and the community. We:

  • Have demonstrated CO2 capture and storage from end-to-end. We have produced, transported, injected, stored and monitored carbon dioxide following best industry standards.
  • Model how CO2 will behave below ground, demonstrating the safe storage of the gas, as predicted, and provides workflows for others to use.
  • Test if the existing regulatory environment in relation to transport, injection and geological storage of CO2 is sufficient, and as needed, help develop a future regulatory regime.
  • Create opportunities to educate and train more than 500 people per year in CCS-related activities.
  • Collaborate with the best researchers globally.
  • Have strong relationships with the community and local stakeholders about the nature, progress and outcomes of the project.
Location and site selection

Our geologists have been researching the geological structures of the CO2CRC Otway project site since 2003. They have found that the geology of the site is well suited to the geological storage of CO2.

The geology comprises a series of thick layers of porous sandstones that are suitable for the storage of carbon dioxide. It is overlain by caprock of mudstone that prevents the leakage of the carbon dioxide to the layer above it.

The CO2CRC Otway Project is located off the Great Ocean Road, around 40km from the town of Warrnambool in south-western Victoria, Australia.

Why this site?

  • A source of carbon dioxide.
  • Oil and gas tenements available.
  • Large amount of exploration and production data.
  • Existing infrastructure.
  • Gas had demonstrably been trapped for a long time.
  • Adequate storage capacity and favourable geology.

the world’s largest carbon capture and storage demonstration project

Research achievements

Detailed data collection started in 2005 with the dataset including details of CO2 levels and seasonal fluxuations of the gas in groundwater, soil and atmosphere. CO2CRC has collected extensive seismic data from an innovative array of receivers on and below the ground providing extremely detailed images. Terra bytes of data has been collected and monitoring is ongoing.

Research at the Otway Research Facility has proven depleted oil and gas fields are safe storage sites for carbon dioxide and that storage in saline formations in the subsurface is viable for large quantities of CO2.

With lead universities in Australia and internationally CO2CRC has refined and tested methods of determining the amount of carbon dioxide that can be safely stored in a specific saline formation. We have enhanced techniques utilised to monitor stored CO2 and our work provides assurance to the local community and regulators that CO2 can be stored safely over the very long term.

Current operations - storage

Stage 3 of our Otway based research is a $45 million project to develop a cost effective ‘smart field’ where up to 40,000 tonnes of CO2 will be injected underground and monitored using various new or modified tools and techniques in real-time.  This injection will model a commercial storage project of 4 million tonnes per annum of CO2.

The project has been designed to be transferable to onshore and offshore environments making it a valuable investment for a range of industries.

The research seeks to validate a range of novel sub-surface monitoring tools and methodologies to provide fit-for-purpose CO2 storage monitoring technology. The ‘Toolbox’ of technologies will allow for significant reductions in the cost of long-term monitoring of CO2.

Preliminary works for Stage 3 have already commenced with a new 1,667m observation well drilled to access the Paarattee Formation. As the project progresses a series of observation wells will be drilled in the area to continuously monitor the 40,000 tonnes plume of CO2.

 

Current operations - capture

Recovering methane from high CO2 content natural gas fields is the next frontier in natural gas extraction. These fields currently go untapped as the economic and environmental impacts do not make them viable.

Australia and its neighbours have fields with high concentrations of CO2 with some reporting up to 70% CO2. CO2CRC’s capture plant at our Otway Research Facility has been designed to capture CO2 from high content natural gas wells using novel membrane and adsorbent materials. The plant is designed to have a small footprint, be energy efficient and be particularly robust to be used in either on or off shore environments.

This experimental plant is being tested at CO2CRC’s Otway Research Facility where CO2CRC has a high concentration natural gas field and is capable of operation with methane streams of between 10 to 80% CO2. The novel materials have been initially developed off site in one of our research partner laboratories with our Capture Plant providing an excellent opportunity for field testing a series of innovative materials.