Carbon dioxide pipelines for sequestration in the UK : an engineering gap analysis

Seevam, Patricia N. and Race, Julia M. and Downie, Martin J. (2007) Carbon dioxide pipelines for sequestration in the UK : an engineering gap analysis. The Journal of Pipeline Engineering, 6. ISSN 1753-2116

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Abstract

CLIMATE CHANGE has been attributed to greenhouse gases with carbon dioxide (CO2) being the major contributor. 60-70% of CO2 emissions worldwide originate from the burning of fossil fuek. Government authorities and power companies in the UK, along with oil and gasfield operators, are proposing to capture CO2 from their power plants and either store it in depleted reservoirs or saline aquifers, or use it for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in depleted oil and gasfields. The capture of anthropogenic CO2 will mitigate against global warming and possibly reduce the impact of climate change. The United States has over 30 years of experience in transporting CO2, mainly from naturally-occurring CO2 sources, and mostly for the purpose of EOR. Both the source and the function of the CO2 pipelines in the USA have dictated a relatively-pure CO2 stream, in comparison, the UK's proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects will be focusing on anthropogenic sources from major polluters such as fossil-fuel power plants, and the CO2 transport infrastructure will involve both on- and offshore pipelines. The fossil-fuel power plants will produce CO2 with varying combinations of impurities depending on the capture technology used. CO2 pipelines have never been designed for some of the impurities released from these power plants. Other key differences between the transport of CO2 in the US and the UK relate to design codes and legislation, pipeline routes, offshore transportation and also storage. The presence of impurities has a great impact on the physical properties of the transported CO2 that consequently affects pipeline design, compressor power, recompression distance, and pipeline capacity, and could also have implications for the prevention of fracture propagation. The effects could be either negative or positive: for example, the addition of some impurities tends to reduce compressor power while others increase the power required. These effects have direct implications for both the technical and economic feasibility of developing a CO2 transport infrastructure on- and offshore. This paper discusses the key differences between the CO2 transport scenarios in the US and the potential transport infrastructure in the UK and provides an understanding of these differences and the implications for designing a CO2-compliant pipeline. It focuses on such factors as recompression distance, flow assurance, and phase equilibrium, and present results of some initial hydraulic modelling work done using proprietary software.