ACT Acorn Q&A 2 - Video Transcription

Paul Booth: [00:00:23] Well thank you. That's another great set of inputs there into what is a very, very, very exciting journey I think we've started on. For some of us, we've been at this for a frustrating 15 years and I think this project - you can almost touch it now, it's there. I'm fed up with talking. And it's about getting something done that's real and you can actually - it has a purpose. 

 

Steve Murphy: [00:00:55] Through the Clean Growth Strategy and the Cost Challenge Task Force last year moving into the deployment phase this year, I think we're going to hear - I hope that we're going to hear - some clearer ways forward, some strong signals that will be suitable, and acceptable, palatable to investors - be they debt, be they equity - over the course of the next 12, 18 months or so. 

 

Paul Booth: [00:01:18] Anybody else have a view on that? I have a view. I think, whether you like it or loathe it, if you look at wind power and all its skeptics and doubters and detractors: it basically was supported by governments. It's at a point now where it's break even. If you go back to - electrolysers are already at 10 megawatt. Shell are already building 10 megawatt electrolysers. That will transform that industry again. This is about a journey of belief and it's about recognizing you've got to pump prime this and it will get to the point eventually where it's... Because value drives everything. It just does. But you've got to start somewhere. So I think it's a combination of "yes, there'll be value" and companies will come in and do it and where they don't, government has to find a way to pump prime... to get this going. 

 

Steve Murphy: [00:02:09] No. It purely looked at resource use in a do-nothing case. And those three CCS scenarios.

 

Leslie Mabon: [00:02:23] That's a very good question indeed. And I'll just give a very brief insight from my experience of some of the work that was done in the Netherlands. And the short answer is that it was seen as being helpful as a starting point to clarify the kind of action that's required. So in Rotterdam, in the Rijnmond - I won't go into specifics in case I say something that's wrong, but certainly, as is in the Netherlands as a whole, there have been some quite clear goals and aspirations that have been set out for climate action at the local level. Whilst it came up in the discussions that happened in the Netherlands that there needed to be more clarity on what the role for CCS was, it was certainly a starting point, a good starting point, something quite tangible for people to say "well, what does responding to climate change mean for our local area? And what are the specific technologies, pathways and actions that are going to get us there?" And that gives, I think, as you say, a sort of springboard for saying, well, how might CCS fit with a local narrative as opposed to being something that's kind of distant and sort of nationally managed and not, connected to local area? So in short, it's not something that really came across for Scotland and the north east, but certainly with the Rotterdam experience it helped to facilitate that discussion. 

 

Leslie Mabon: [00:03:42] The main issue that we had with the unions, and I will be careful not to name names, is that in Scotland there are still, as you say, we have some large and influential unions who, when you speak to people in private will be quite sympathetic to the need for action on climate change. However, publicly, given perceptions around climate mitigation and what the effects of that might be on jobs, it can be difficult for some of these unions to propose and pass motions expressing support for climate change. As regards how that relates to CCS, my sense of it is that when one speaks again with unions at a one-to-one level, there is interest and there's sympathy. The challenge as I see it is maybe to raise awareness among some of these unions of what the specifics of CCS are, what CCS actually involves in practice and what role it might have in balancing these climate and also employment imperatives. So, for instance, in short the awareness within a lot of the trade union reps that I spoke with was comparatively low. They were sympathetic and they were interested, but the real knowledge gap I think is what does it mean for jobs? It can specifically be said how many jobs is going to either preserve, create or maintain, what might these jobs be? And very specifically, do the skills that already exist in, say, oil and gas industries match up in reality to the skills and the jobs are going to be needed to make CCS happen? So, in short: yes there's sympathy; but in terms of knowledge, awareness and data there's a lot of work to do. 

 

Hazel Robertson: [00:05:35] So the monitoring costs were looked at. So what wasn't covered in the whirlwind storage discussion was we actually ran, for both sites, a leakage workshop, or a containment workshop. So really looking at all the different potential migration pathways that the carbon dioxide could potentially move outwith the store, and putting a risk assessment on that. And then, from that, building a monitoring plan for both of the sites as well. So a monitoring plan was developed for both of the stores, and was costed as well. So not in the - actually, I think one seismic survey is in the capital costs. But the operating costs, the MMV, or monitoring measurement and verification, has been included as well. So it is within that. 

 

Clare Bond: [00:06:26] I can comment on that. Really from a personal perspective, I suppose. Whereas CCS was at one point just seen as "OK this is just prolonging the oil and gas industry". Well I would say, definitely, the last year, at the conference in Edinburgh in November I felt like there was a real change and a real push forward, and people really beginning to see CCS as definitely part of the solution, and not an excuse for prolonging. And I think Bellona made that point in their talk. 

 

Steve Murphy: [00:07:06] So, during the course of the project we've produced so far 20, and ultimately there'll be 21, reports. All of them are on the project website. Details are on there. The storage development plan budgets that Hazel referred to have got the cash flow in those, so you've got the CapEx, the phasing of that, the OpEx, the MMV costs when they happen and handover costs to the competent authority. The costs are all there. I mean, the question really is: what is society willing to pay in order in order to mitigate the effects of climate change? 

 

Eric Mackay: [00:07:50] The thing that strikes me about the modelling activity is that we can gain a lot from what's already happened from the oil industry in the North Sea. So there's a lot of data out there that's already been developed, and we do modelling for oilfield systems. We start from very little knowledge, and that's actually when we need the models the most, when we're making big decisions. In the situation here we've already got a lot of data: Richard is showing excellent data. That piece of rock on the windowsill there has come from the Captain field in the North Sea. We wouldn't have that if the oil industry has been doing the work. So that data has helped to constrain these models a lot. There's a lot of uncertainty in the models and it's very helpful that we're able to constrain and reduce that uncertainty. So we run lots of scenarios and we try and ensure that the most probable outcomes all lie within the range of scenarios that we run. And that helps to minimize the amount of uncertainty that we have. And the way I think of it is if you come into this... I bet you no one came into this building today with the concept that when they came into this room there would be magma underneath their feet. But there is. It's a long way down. But we have uncertainty: we don't know exactly how that magma is moving around. But the uncertainty is constrained, and so we don't worry about it. I think the same applies with our modeling activities for CO2 storage. There are uncertainties but we know how to constrain those uncertainties. And we know that there are limits on it. And we've been very good at doing this in the North Sea. We've drilled. We've found cap rocks - like that one that's on the windowsill there - with buoyant hydrocarbons underneath them, hundreds and hundreds of times and done it very, very successfully, and been able to model those. So I think that to answer the question, the modeling philosophy is to look at a range of scenarios: we can't constrain it completely to one single scenario, but we look at a range of scenarios and we ensure that the range of scenarios covers all the possibilities that might occur. 

 

Stuart Haszeldine: [00:10:08] If I just make a comparison with other CCS sites: we can see that in Norway Statoil started off with the Sleipner site, but then Statoil/Equinor moved up to Snohvit and they had two sites. Effectively they had a prime site and then a backup site. The prime site didn't work quite as well but they understood the subsurface well enough to move to the backup site, so the whole project performs very well. I think part the point with this project is there are multiple backup sites already within the Captain sandstone, between the Atlantic and between the Goldeneye and also there's a whole swathe of backup sites in the Mey sandstone that the project's evaluated. And there are multiple seals on the top, so this is actually a really, really resilient suite of storage structures, so it shows extremely good promise of performing, even if the geology is not quite perfect the first time. With all the knowledge Eric's talked about we can be very, very confident that enough of that geology will perform all of the time to be a secure and safe store. 

 

Eric Mackay: [00:11:15] CO2 is a very useful resource, and so the question might be asked if, in a thousand years' time we decide that we actually want to bring this stuff back out again, how could we do that? And the answer is actually very, very difficult because the rock retains it. That rock there is very good at holding back CO2. This would not be a good place to put CO2 if you wanted it back again. So we have looked at studies. I think if there is ever a CO2 leak it will probably be through a hole that human beings have drilled into the, through the rock. It's very unlikely to seep out of the rock. I think we spend far too much time talking about leakage scenarios. If we get some volcanologists in the room they'll talk endlessly about that magma down there because that's their area of interest. And we're interested in leakage scenarios, so we talk a lot about it. The fact is I think that it's very unlikely ever to occur and if it does occur there are mitigation strategies that can take place to address that. 

 

Paul Booth: [00:12:14] I think he's right, actually, that if you talk about a thousand years it actually mineralizes in the seawater. However. We'll come back to that question. 

 

Clare Bond: [00:12:22] I was also just going to comment on that as well. You may well be aware, there are experiments: the Otway Project is one of those where they do this 'huff and puff', where they pump in the CO2 and then they try and pull it back out again. And there's one up on Svalbard where they're pumping into a sandstone that actually if the CO2 just migrates up the sandstone it'll come out just out to free air. And I think those projects are really designed to look at how the CO2 just is trapped in the porespace and as you flush it through it's just all left behind. So it's actually, as Eric was saying, it's actually quite hard to get out once you start to put it in. And I'll just pick up on Eric's point about wells. We've also did a little sub-project work at Aberdeen looking at capped well and well integrity from the data that is in the CDA database, so we have also started some of that work just looking at how many holes there are that we have drilled into some of these potential aquifers. 

 

Eric Mackay: [00:13:25] A similar point as to before. We've got a lot of data from the oil and gas industry, so we can constrain our models from the production histories that we have from the fields that are in those same systems. For example, one of the boundaries is a fault which runs right through the Captain field, and the Captain field has held down hydrocarbons - buoyant hydrocarbons - for tens of millions of years. So you can never have a hundred percent certainty, of course, but given the data that we have, we've got a very high degree of confidence that those systems will hold because they have already held hydrocarbons for long periods of time. 

 

Richard Worden: [00:14:06] So I think there's another way of looking at this, in that the oil and gas that was in those fields that were present on Hazel's maps, that oil took tens to hundreds of millions of years to migrate there. So fluids do move in the subsurface, but they move really slowly. So as soon as you move away from the injection well the pressure differential diminishes and the rate of fluid movement decreases exponentially as you move away from the injection site. So the ability to move right beyond the end of the the play we looked out is probably very unlikely, given all the geological analogues, and the easiest is oil and gas migration. 

 

Paul Booth: [00:14:40] So can I just ask you to thank the panel for answering those questions.