New Zealand’s largest coal mining company, government-owned Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd., will survey potential land-based carbon dioxide storage sites in Otago and Southland as part of a project exploring carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
Solid Energy is investigating a NZ$1 billion (US$685 million) Coal-to-Liquids project of which CCS would be a part. (Earlier post.)
The first stage of the survey, to be carried out over the next six months, will involve detailed geological and data analysis. If and when potential sites are identified, the company expects to move to a detailed drilling program to investigate potential structures in more depth under appropriate resource consents.
The initial project will be undertaken using expertise developed through the Australian-based Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC), in which Solid Energy is a participant. Future research will involve New Zealand scientists.
Solid Energy is a founding shareholder, with several Australian coal, oil and gas majors in a CO2CRC-related company formed to operate Australasia’s first project to trial CO2 storage technology in the onshore Otway Basin of western Victoria. The trial is due to start before the end of 2006 and will involve about 40 Australian and overseas researchers.
New Zealand has vast opportunities for underground storage of CO2, including in depleted gas reservoirs and in deep coal seams. If we are to exploit our huge lignite reserves, we must work to address the challenge of CO2. We will be able to build on the considerable experience of the international oil industry, which has used CO2 injection into geological formations for many years to help recover oil and gas from hydrocarbon reservoirs. For example, about 1 billion tonnes of CO2 is estimated to have been injected to date for enhanced oil recovery in the United States alone and this is equivalent to New Zealand’s entire annual CO2 emissions for 25-30 years.—Dr Don Elder, CEO Solid Energy
In neighboring Australia, there are four sequestration projects currently in various stages of development: Gorgon in Western Australia; ZeroGen in Queensland; Otway Basin Project in Victoria; and Latrobe Valley, Victoria.