Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS)

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS)

What is CCUS and CCUS worldwide?

Carbon capture involves the capturing of anthropogenic waste CO2, transporting it to a storage site and depositing it into sinks such a geological reservoirs or aquifers, where it cannot enter the atmosphere. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) /CCUS can be applied to large point sources such as fossil fuel energy facilities like the natural gas-powered plants located in Trinidad. After capturing the CO2 , it is then compressed and transported for geological storage. Pipelines are preferred for transporting large amounts of CO2 for distances around 1000km. If the volume of CO2 is smaller than a few million tonnes per year then ships/trucks are economically favoured (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2005). After the CO2 is injected into the subsurface, it will rise until it is trapped by some impermeable layer or cap rock where it is stored for millions of years.

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), which will help avoid the worst outcomes from climate change by reaching net-zero emissions, sees the mass of CO2 captured using CCS going up from around 40 Million tonnes per annum today to 5635 Million tonnes by 2050, at least a hundred-fold increase. This will require an investment of around US$9.7 Trillion. Many international oil and gas majors, including BP, Shell, Total, Eni and Equinor have announced substantial CCS investments in order to achieve their net-Zero emission targets. For a comprehensive overview of worldwide CCUS projects see the Global Status of CCS 2020 Report by the Global CCS Institute .

CCUS operations (Global CCS Institute)

Figure 1: CCUS operations (Global CCS Institute)

History of CO2 injection in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago has been involved in the oil and gas industry for over a century. Our daily oil production has been declining since our peak in 1978 and our fields are now classified as mature. Many methods of Enhanced Oil Recovery have been attempted in Trinidad, including the injection of CO2. It was first tested in 1972 by Texaco in Guayaguayare and Brighton which then ramped up in 1974 in the Forest Reserve field. From 1975 to 2004, carbon dioxide was intermittently injected in the Upper Forest Formation and Upper Cruse Sands in the Forest Reserve field. From 1990 to 2000 CO2 was continuously injected in the Oropouche field. Approximately 1.26 million Metric Tons (24 Billion cubic feet) of CO2 were injected in both fields in total to recover 4 million barrels of oil, with a peak production of 812 bopd in Forest Reserve. A positive response to injection was observed in all projects within 6 months to 1 year of CO2 injection. (Mohammed-Singh , 2004) before Petrotrin permanently halted injection in 2004 after an explosion at the Point Lisas compressor station. In 2009, Krishna Persad and Associates (KPA) operated a small, 4 well, pilot CO2 project in the Barrackpore farmout, with quite modest results (Sinanan, B. 2016). Since the KPA pilot ended in 2010 no further CO2 injection occurred until May 2020 at a small pilot project operated by Columbus Energy in the Inniss-Trinity IPSC (Guayaguayare). As of December 2020, a positive response was observed while 70% of the 9 Metric tons/day of CO2 currently being continuously injected is forecast to be sequestered in the Herrera Sands. Future Inniss-Trinity expansion projects have the potential for additional recovery of up to 9 million barrels of oil. For more information on this project see:

CO2 emissions in Trinidad and Tobago

Though the nation’s absolute CO2 emissions are relatively insignificant, it has high levels of CO2 emissions on a per capita and per GDP basis (World Resource Institute 2005). As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement steps must be taken to reduce our carbon emissions and to meet the target of cutting emissions by 15% by 2030 (UNDP, 2018). CCUS provides an avenue for Trinidad and Tobago to do so while simultaneously boosting our oil production.

Carbon Management

There has also been growing interest in the storage aspect of carbon management. The Ministry of Planning and Development’s August 2015 Strategy for Reduction of Carbon Emissions in Trinidad and Tobago to 2040 ( ) identified the development of a Carbon Capture and Storage map with possible locations for CCS sites, as a proposed measure in its Action Plan for the mitigation of Greenhouse Gas (GHG). A 2018 Carbon Management study conducted by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) from September 1st 2015 to May 31st 2018, estimated T&T’s emissions of carbon dioxide at over 40 Million Metric Tons per annum, with up to 8 Million Metric Tons of highly concentrated Carbon Dioxide emanating from ammonia plants. In addition, carbon sequestration projects can generate certified emission reduction units (CER) which can be traded with developed countries for revenue. Analysis of CO2 storage also has the ability to support emerging technologies required for clean energy project e.g. blue hydrogen production, in achieving its production and emission targets. The 2018 study estimated that using just two (2) of Heritage Petroleum Company Limited’s reservoirs it may be possible to sequester there approximately 7.3 to 17.2 Million Metric Tons of CO2 over a ten (10) year period based on utilization rates of between 4.0 – 14.5 Mscf CO2/bbl of oil recovered. However, there are substantial uncertainties about the quantity of carbon dioxide that can be stored in different reservoirs via dedicated CCS or through Carbon Capture and CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery. The UTT and the UWI have also jointly proposed to undertake the development of a National Carbon Dioxide Storage Atlas. The Atlas is a key component of the programme that is intended to develop full-scale Carbon Capture and CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery deployment.

The Carbon Reduction Strategy Task Force (CRSTF)

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2009, the South Chamber of Industry and Commerce (now the Energy Chamber) delivered a presentation entitled “Carbon Capture and Storage: The T&T Landscape”. This presentation inspired the formation of the Carbon Reduction Strategy Task Force (CRSTF) in April of 2010. The CRSTF was mandated to develop proposals for:

1.         A national ‘Carbon Reduction Strategy’;

2.         Regulatory and policy environment for carbon storage, credit and trading;

3.         Incentives to attract investment from international companies and research bodies interested in exploring possibilities of carbon and storage in T&T; and

4.         A CCS Project which identifies the key stakeholders, the technology and the implications for existing and future industrial plants.

The CRSTF involved a committee which comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Energy & Energy Industries (MEEI) and the Ministry of Housing & the Environment (MHE); academic institutions such as the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) and the University of the West Indies (UWI); state energy companies such as the National Gas Company (NGC), the National Energy Corporation (NEC) and Petrotrin, representatives of the Energy Chamber and private sector companies such as Atlantic LNG (Atlantic) and Krishna Persad and Associates (KPA).

The findings of the CRSTF can be split up into three main categories:

  1. Quantification, capture and transmission
  2. Policy and administration
  3. Research and new business opportunities

Quantification, Capture and Transmission

In order to implement viable carbon reduction strategies such as Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS), the volume of CO2 emitted and a suitable method of economic transmission from the sources to the destination needs to be determined. The CRSTF found that the sources of concentrated CO2 that can be easily accessed are the ammonia manufacturing plants at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate (PLIE) (4-9 mmMT/year) and the CO2 removal system of the Atlantic LNG facility 9 of (96,000-135,000 MT/ year).

For the transportation aspect of the CO2, an onshore pipeline network was identified for use to transport an estimated 6 mmMT/year of CO2 from sources in Pt Lisas to onshore oilfields in the South-western Trinidad would cost two to four  million USD (capital expenditure and installation costs). The possible routes would lie generally along the path of the previous CO2 pipeline from Pt Lisas to Fyzabad and Oropouche, where possible and feasible, taking into account line encroachments. Where there is an unused route segment, there can possibly be usage of NGC and Petrotrin pipeline rights of way (ROWs). An offshore route was also considered but further assessment needed to be done.

Policy and Administration

The carbon reduction initiative must be supported by adequate policy which is further backed by appropriate regulatory and administrative framework for overseeing CRS implementation. There are various existing international, regional and national policies, frameworks and initiatives on this matter of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting the utilization of economically available CO2 all of which need to be analyzed to see which suits T&T best.

It was decided that, as a collective body on behalf of T&T the CRSTF should collaborate with the designated national authority (DNA) in determining specific commitments for T&T. As energy issues were closely tied to climate change mitigation, the MEEI should have considerable input on this matter and should adopt the lead role in the CRS. Further efforts should also be made to adjust the standards in the industrial sector so that minimum energy efficiency requirements are outlined. Lastly, it was recommended that CO2 be treated as a utility and be metered. Tariffs could be placed on both the CO2 suppliers and users along with implementing a Penalty System for venting CO2.Other customers may also be attracted if such a utility is established.

Research and New Business Opportunities

Research done by both universities locally suggest that CO2 EOR can be significant in sequestering CO2 and boosting oil production, 2 goals that the GORTT would like to achieve.

It is also imperative that T&T meet its international obligation for the reduction of carbon dioxide emission levels, without adversely affecting the competitiveness of the industrial sectors in T&T. There are numerous business opportunities in reducing carbon emissions in T&T. These include:

  • Alternative Energy Usage- Switching to CNG for the transportation sector and the possibility of piping Natural gas to homes
  • CO2 EOR combined with simultaneous (Dynamic) Sequestration
  • Natural Gas Capture and re-injection or flaring with flue Gas capture and CO2 extraction (from flue gas) for use in CO2EOR-Sequestration
  • Energy Efficiency in both electricity generation and power consumption
  • Renewable Energy-Wind generated electricity, Photovoltaic electricity, Hydro-electricity incl. dams, streams, waves, currents, Ethanol from sugar cane, use/Reuse Recycling of Waste Products/Discarded Materials
  • CCS