The flagship south west hub project: Approach towards developing a green-field industrial scale CCS project in Western Australia

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Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a potential stepping stone to maintaining energy security while reducing the carbon footprint of Australia's energy sources. CCS, which involves capturing carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere and injecting it to be stored in deep geological formations, is the only technology available to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions while still using fossil fuels and much of today's energy infrastructure. At a State level, the Western Australian Greenhouse Strategy incorporates CCS and is helping to address the need for a long-term commitment to climate change and cleaner energy. The Government of Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) commenced investigating a site near large CO2 emission sources (the industrial centres of Kwinana and Collie in South-West Western Australia) in 2007 and developed the South West Hub (SW Hub) project concept in 2009 with the support of local industrial partners in the form of a Joint Venture (JV). The project was designated an "Australian Flagship" project in 2011 and has received substantial funding and support from the Australian Federal Government, the Western Australia (WA) State Government and industry. The project has concurrently considered the various aspects required for an industrial scale development. The DMP has launched the technical investigations required to build confidence in the site and in parallel moved to amend the WA State Petroleum and Geothermal Legislation to include onshore geological storage of greenhouse gases. This is expected to pass in 2014-15, following which acreage release can occur. The ongoing and planned technical and exploration well drilling work is thus classified under the pre-competitive data acquisition phase and will allow the regulators to have comprehensive data packages to support tenement releases for CCS in the future. Community engagement has been given great importance, a formal strategy developed, workshops held and a "Carbon-Kids" program launched in local schools. New geological data has been gathered through targeted 2D seismic lines and a deep exploration well. Technical uncertainties have been catalogued and the next phase of pre-competitive data acquisition is now under planning with 3D seismic (recently acquired) and several wells targeted at reducing these uncertainties. This will increase confidence in the storage concept and the fundamental performance factors of capacity, injectivity and especially containment as the area does not appear to have a large regional seal. Geological studies have indicated that the Lesueur Sandstone can potentially store between 200-260 Mt of CO2 over 40 years with residual trapping being the principal containment mechanism. Very significant technical work has supported this development through a range of research projects launched under the auspices of the Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research and Development program (ANLEC R&D). The DMP is managing the SW Hub project in a stage-gated way with each investment phase progressing only when sufficient technical confidence justifies doing so. Industry, through a joint venture (JV), is aligning the capture programs of the industrial partners with feasibility studies and possible pipeline routes so that a comprehensive project work program can be tabled to acquire property rights under the new legislation. The SW Hub Project has faced (and continues to face) numerous technical, organisational, community and financial challenges. In overcoming these, a rich base of experience has been created. There are currently no CO2 storage projects (research, pilot or industrial) worldwide that focus on residual trapping mechanisms for primary containment and the SW Hub Project will potentially allow many more sites to be considered for storage as it develops and shares its research. The paper will elaborate on the importance of good processes, long term planning, extensive stakeholder management supported by a robust technical program as a viable blue-print for developing a green-field industrial scale CCS project.




Sharma, S., Van Gent, D., Burke, M., & Stelfox, L. (2014). The flagship south west hub project: Approach towards developing a green-field industrial scale CCS project in Western Australia. In Energy Procedia (Vol. 63, pp. 6096–6105). Elsevier Ltd.

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