The Energy Transition and Carbon Capture and Sequestration

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The Energy Transition and Carbon Capture and Sequestration

How carbon capture and sequestration is leading the energy transition

Reducing environmental impact is now an essential part of the future strategy for major energy companies worldwide. Increased resources and investment are being injected into the energy transition as companies turn to more renewable forms of energy. However, it’s widely acknowledged this energy transition will take time. With the world still very much reliant on conventional fossil fuels, one of the critical challenges the industry faces is how to continue operating while finding ways to reduce the level of carbon dioxide emitted. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the leading solutions for these emissions gaining momentum during this industry-wide transition.

What Is the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Process?

Carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouse gases that impact the environment. However, it is considered the worst offender. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than methane or nitrous oxide, and it is a long-lived gas that absorbs less heat than the other two gases.

It’s estimated that the gas is responsible for two-thirds of the imbalance contributing to the rise in the earth’s temperature. Nevertheless, in many ways, the production of carbon dioxide is unavoidable. And while too much of the gas isn’t good, some of it is necessary. Without the greenhouse effect, the planet would have an average temperature well below freezing.

Carbon capture and storage, or sequestration (CCS), is a process to lower harmful emissions in which producers capture carbon dioxide resulting from activities such as burning fossil fuels and store the gas beneath the earth’s surface. The process is as follows:

  • Capturing and trapping the gas: Carbon capture can occur at several points in the process of burning fossil fuels. It can be trapped after combustion, meaning it gets separated from other gases produced by burning fuel. It can also be captured before combustion, meaning it is removed from the fuel source before combustion occurs. A third method burns the fossil fuel in a power plant filled with pure oxygen. The burning fuel produces carbon dioxide and water. The carbon can then be captured by compressing the water to separate it from the carbon dioxide.
  • Transporting the gas: Once a company has captured the carbon dioxide, it needs to transport it to the storage facility. Usually, the gas travels along pipelines above or below the ground or in the ocean. The pipelines might collect the gas from various sources along the way. At some point, the carbon dioxide may be transferred to a tanker before reaching its destination.
  • Storing the gas: All that gas needs to go somewhere. There are several options for carbon dioxide storage. One is to store it in reservoirs under the ground. When in underground storage, the carbon is held at a steady temperature and exists in a state somewhere between a liquid and a gas. Since it can seep into rock formations, ample amounts of the gas can exist in a relatively small area. Another possibility is to store carbon dioxide in the ocean. When stored deep beneath the ocean’s surface, the gas would be denser than water and would remain at the depths of the ocean for years.

Advantages of carbon capture

CCS and Corrosion Resistant Alloys

Material selection is critical to the success and longevity of any CCS project. A number of factors have led to the consideration of utilizing corrosion-resistant alloy tubulars to adequately withstand the harsh environments present throughout the CCS process.

  • CO2 Mixtures and Corrosion: CO2 in the presence of water creates a corrosive carbonic acid. The addition of oxygen can accelerate the rate of corrosion. CCS projects involve a variety of CO2 sources, which may contain a variety of corrosive contaminants. Corrosive environments are not only a possibility; they are a likelihood.
  • Risks of Lined Alternatives: Lined tubulars are often viewed as a cost-effective alternative to corrosion-resistant alloys. However, lined products do not prevent the potential for external corrosion. In addition, regulators often require a number of wireline surveys to be run inside the wellbore, and there may also be the need for coil tubing intervention inside these wells. These activities threaten to damage the IPC or lined products and create a significant risk that can be avoided by utilizing corrosion-resistant alloys.
  • Well Integrity: Current projections for CCS projects are looking at well life cycles of up to 25 to 30 years. Downtime from leaks or failures significantly affects customer supply and operator cost while bringing further risk for negative environmental impact. For these reasons, maintaining well integrity and mitigating the risk of failure over the long run is critical, making corrosion-resistant alloys an ideal solution for optimal well longevity.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration as a Solution for the Oil & Gas Industry

While there is much discussion about switching from fossil fuels to cleaner-burning, renewable sources of energy, the reality is that many areas of the world will be reliant on fossil fuels for many years to come. Carbon capture will therefore play a vital role in the transition. CCS helps companies reduce their carbon footprint while also creating the opportunity for future commercial use.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of carbon capture is that it reduces the emissions of one of the most prominent greenhouse gases at the source. It prevents carbon dioxide from getting into the atmosphere in the first place, helping to reduce the greenhouse effect.

 

For CCS to truly offer a long-term solution to energy companies aiming to reduce the impact of non-renewables, material consideration is vital. If you need assistance with alloy selection on your next CCS project, Corrosion Resistant Alloys can evaluate your well conditions to help you choose the right product for your application. Contact our expert metallurgy team to get started!

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