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$70M C[O.sub.2] storage project.

Imperial College London is conducting research on a $70 million project to store carbon dioxide in carbonate rocks in the Middle East.

The Imperial team is developing simulations of carbonate reservoirs to see how C[O.sub.2] reacts with the rock when it is injected underground in Qatar. The work could lead to new carbon capture and storage techniques.

The team is working with oil companies Qatar Petroleum and Shell on the 10-year project, called Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research. The partners aim to understand the complex geology of carbonate rocks, which hold approximately 50% of the world's oil and gas reserves.

The computer simulations that Imperial is developing will model the complex structure of the carbonate reservoirs to help understand, among other things, the rate at which C[O.sub.2] can be injected and to predict how it will react with the rock.

Geoffrey Maitland, professor of energy engineering at Imperial College and director of the research project, said: "The research is geared towards understanding the structure of the reservoirs. Most work is being done on sandstone reservoirs, but little is being done on carbonate reservoirs.

"Fifty per cent of the storage of carbon dioxide that we are going to have to do will be in these reservoirs, but they are much less understood, so there is much more scope for research."

Maitland said that the big difference with carbonate reservoirs, compared with sandstone, is that when you put C[O.sub.2] in it reacts with the carbonate rock because C[O.sub.2] is acidic. This can cause the structure of the rock to change shape.

"That's one of the areas we want to explore," he said. "Are there ways that we can perhaps trap more COs in carbonate reservoirs than we can in sandstone reservoirs because we have some ability to control the rock structure?

"One of the hopes is that we will be able to define different injection procedures into carbonates that are more efficient than they are into sandstone reservoirs," he added. "This is new territory in terms of the underpinning science and engineering and the technology."

Maitland said it will probably take two or three years to get to the point when the team can simulate the reservoir in Qatar.

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Title Annotation:NEWS: Downing Street launch for Engineering UK report
Publication:Professional Engineering Magazine
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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