Old UK oilwells could be turned into CO2 burial test sites by The Guardian

Exclusive: Consortium of energy firms and universities says underground storage of hydrogen can also be investigated.

Nodding donkey pumping units at one of the oilwells on the Wytch Farm site near Poole, England. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Exhausted oil and gas wells would be turned into the UK’s first deep test sites for burying carbon dioxide next year, under plans from a consortium of universities and energy companies.

There are hundreds of active onshore oil and gas wells in the UK. But as they come to the end of their lives, some need to be redeployed for trials of pumping CO2 underground and monitoring it to ensure it does not escape, the group says. The test wells could also be used to assess how hydrogen can be stored underground.

CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will be a significant part of tackling the climate crisis, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK’s official advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The reservoirs under the North Sea provide the biggest potential storage for CO2 from fossil fuel burning, but the consortium said reusing existing onshore wells was the fastest and cheapest way to research and develop safe and effective systems.

The Net Zero Rise (Research Infrastructure for Subsurface Energy) project involves the universities of Newcastle, Oxford and Durham, and the fossil fuel companies IGas and Third Energy.

It has identified 20 candidate wells, mainly in Yorkshire and the Midlands. A CCS test site would bury a relatively small amount of CO2, about 1,000 tonnes, at 1-3km depth. The cost of repurposing a well, plus two monitoring wells and the monitoring equipment would be about £5m, the group said.

Read the full article here.

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