For decades, the energy industry has injected CO2 into suitable geological structures with the target of increasing oil recovery and in some cases avoiding CO2 emissions. Today, the energy transition is calling for a marked change towards the latter, leading to an important effort from the energy community to rapidly increase the number of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects under execution.
“CCS is a proven technology necessary to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe in a cost-efficient manner and to enable negative emissions,” says Tenaris Energy Transition OCTG Project Director Paolo Novelli. “All credible modelling scenarios show that CCS will be essential to meeting the targets set by the Paris Agreement.”
With that in mind, many projects are currently progressing, and the industry is active in finding solutions from existing oil and gas experience or with dedicated testing simulating the most critical CO2 injection conditions.
“In this context,” adds Novelli, “the North Sea, historically a key area in developing knowledge and trialing new technologies, is one of the most advanced and dynamic areas. Tenaris is putting its experience at the service of these developments, actively collaborating with the most important public and private entities and operators.”
Aitken Mitchell, Tenaris technical sales senior engineer in the North Sea, shares insight on why CCS activities are flourishing in the region:
Why is the North Sea a frontrunner in CCS projects and applications?
There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, activity in this area is clearly stimulated by the environmental commitment of North Sea country governments (Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, UK). In addition to this, North Sea oil and gas exploration and production has been on the frontier of technological development since the 1960s, which over decades has resulted in a wealth of expertise in the region, which can be repurposed to CCS. Many of the region’s universities and research institutes hosting excellent schools for petroleum engineers are now focusing on the task of CCS. Also, in the North Sea, there is a significant and proven storage capacity for CO2, which is well mapped and understood by the operators through copious amounts of data from exploration and development projects.
What are the main trends in CCS development in the North Sea?
In many of the large-emitting areas, governments are pushing to capture CO2. Many operators are suggesting the CO2 be stored in depleted offshore oil and gas fields that have come to the end of their life as a producing hydrocarbon field. Other operators are selecting new saline-aquifers without any hydrocarbon extraction activity. In some cases, the infrastructure is already in place, including some existing pipelines for transportation while others have to be constructed. A general trend for the North Sea region’s CCS projects is for CO2 capture to be organized in hubs, where CO2 is captured from different industrial sources and collectively injected in a single offshore injection site operated by a leading operator in the consortium. In these hubs, all the technological challenges related to the transportation and storage of CO2 coming from different sources are collectively analyzed and studied to find the appropriate solutions.
What are the most frequent technical requests, related to OCTG, coming from operators working on CCUS projects?
Based on discussions about OCTG with many CCS project operators in the region, the technical challenges faced can be broadly split into two main categories: cold-temperature and effect of the CCS injection gases on the materials (corrosion).
Cold temperature: during the injection and some well operations, it is possible for the temperature of the CO2 (and the tubulars) to drop well below freezing (-78.5oC) due to the Joule-Thompson effect. OCTG connections and materials require validation in these extreme temperatures, which are outside of the scope of traditional oil and gas applications.
Corrosion: North Sea CCS hubs collect CO2 from numerous sources (combustion and other) which result in the injectable CO2 being contaminated with O2, NOx, SOx, H2S and H2 (among other impurities). Versus existing oil and gas experience, materials require further validation in terms of understanding corrosion and cracking resistance of materials in these challenging environments.
What are the most important R&D activities that Tenaris is carrying out, both on premium connections and in metallurgy, to respond to the abovementioned challenges?
Tenaris has already conducted full-scale testing of a 3 ½” 9.2# TN 95Cr13S TenarisHydril Blue® Dopeless® 3.0 premium connection at -34oC, whose results have been presented at OMC in Ravenna and SPE CCUS Conference 2022 in Aberdeen, demonstrating that the Blue® premium connection maintains its gas sealability performances even under such low temperatures.
We are also maintaining regular communication with the North Sea major CCS projects to gain valuable inputs and specifications to guide our connection and material testing. Tenaris continues to execute R&D activities, both internal and on behalf of CCS end-users, on materials and connections for CCS. Our in-house technical experts and R&D facilities are able to tailor qualification activities to the dynamic technical inputs from North Sea CCS projects.
To read more about Tenaris solutions for low carbon energy projects, click here.