CO2CRC owns and operates the Otway National Research Facility – a world class test facility and the centrepiece of CCUS technology advancement in Australia and internationally for more than 15 years.

Current operational services

The Otway National Research Facility provides:

    • Seven purpose drilled CO2 storage wells (>1.5km deep), within a ~1 km2 area, for CO2 injection and monitoring activities.
    • Readily available supply of CO2 from an in-situ CO2 gas field.
    • Variety of storage reservoir types, structures and seals.
    • State-of-the-art seismic monitoring array for observing and benchmarking subsurface technologies and processes.
    • All necessary regulatory approvals and support of local communities to complete CCUS investigations.
ONRF
Location of the Otway National Research Facility
Paul Barraclough CO2CRC Senior Manager Stage 3 and Operations with Stoyen Nikolov from Silixa at CRC-6 monitoring well at the Otway National Research Facility in February 2020

CCUS demonstration

The Otway National Research Facility gives industry and academia the opportunity to investigate and overcome engineering challenges and assess technical performance under operational conditions, prior to embarking on a commercial CCUS projects. CO2CRC provides leadership in managing multidisciplinary project teams across collaborating research organisations.

CO2CRC uses projects at the research facility to understand the impact of CCUS solutions in a global, economic, environmental and societal context. We demonstrate CO2 being securely separated, transported, stored and monitored. This enables project partners, political leaders, government officials, regulators and community to see and learn about CCUS in action.

CO2 storage validation

Several major CO2 storage trials between 2008 and 2020 injected over 80,000 tonnes of CO2 into a depleted gas field and saline formations. The storage of this CO2 is being monitored using an internationally renowned program to test advanced technologies and techniques. The monitoring program is the most comprehensive of its type in the world and aims to demonstrate how the cost of plume monitoring can be significantly reduced

Click here for more information on the chemistry of storage and the trapping mechanisms at work to ensure CO2 is permanently stored.

The Otway National Research Facility is used to demonstrate and verify:

      • Fundamental storage processes – CO2 trapping processes within depleted reservoirs and saline formation storage systems.
      • Integrity and assurance monitoring – monitoring technologies for stored CO2 behaviour, assuring freshwater aquifers and near surface/surface environments are protected.
      • CO2 behaviour prediction – technical capability to predict, verify and assure CO2 migration and trapping.
      • Large scale storage options – depleted reservoirs and saline formations for storing globally significant volumes of CO2.
      • Long term stabilisation – monitoring and modelling the CO2 plume stabilszation process.
      • Regulatory compliance – the CCUS regulatory approval pathway and regulatory compliance.

CO2 capture validation

CO2CRC operated an experimental CO2 separation plant at the Otway National Research Facility which supported extensive field trials of membrane and adsorbent technologies under high pressure conditions.

This capture facility was designed to address the emerging challenge of high CO2 content in natural gas fields. Australia has an enormous reserve of natural gas which it is currently leveraging for export revenue. However, the next tier of gas fields to be developed have a significantly higher CO2 content, for example the North West Shelf is ~15 % CO2 and Icthys fields in Browse Basin range from 7% to 16% CO2.  CO2CRC is seeking to develop membrane and adsorption separation technologies which are compact, robust and cost competitive to complement or replace conventional CO2 separation processes such as solvent based gas sweetening technologies.

The Otway National Research Facility’s natural gas source, with high CO2 content (~79%) presents a cost-effective opportunity to conduct field-scale trials to demonstrate and validate innovative technologies for natural gas separation and related processes.

The Otway capture research skid
The Otway capture research skid (2016- 2019)

Major technologies trialled at the Otway National Research Facility

Technology Innovation Innovation Purpose
3D seismic imaging of the subsurface with Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) using surface and downhole fibre optics* Acoustic measurement of the storage system to ensure safe injection and confirm CO2 flow behaviour
Permanent pressure tomography and inversion monitoring* Continuous pressure monitoring of the reservoir and/or above zone to ensure safe injection and confirm CO2 flow behaviour
An array of permanent, low profile seismic sources combined with monitoring wells equipped with high definition fibre optics deliver time lapse seismic monitoring* Continuous acoustic monitoring of the storage system to ensure safe injection and confirm CO2 flow behaviour
U-tube (low invasive) sampling system Fluid sampling of the CO2 storage formation
Tracers (noble, isotopic, organic) Creates a unique ‘fingerprint’ of the injected CO2 to track migration and assure containment
Re-purposing existing wells Cost effective alternative to drilling new wells
Downhole pressure analysis Pressure measurements of reservoir and above zone to ensure safe injection and confirmation of CO2 flow behaviour
Time lapse CO2 saturation logging Rapid high-resolution measurement of CO2 saturation downhole to confirm CO2 flow behaviour
Distributed temperature sensing using down hole fibre optics Along-well temperature measurements to characterise reservoir properties and confirm CO2 containment, validate well integrity over the life of the project and to inform the operator of the performance of the well during injection or production operations.
Array of residual & dissolution trapping characterisation techniques Cost effective evaluation of secondary trapping potential and confirmation of CO2 flow behaviour
Assurance monitoring Cost effective assurance monitoring of CCS operations from a health, safely and the environment perspective

* denotes technologies being tested in the Otway Stage 3 project.