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Project Profile: South West Hub, Australia
Date:30 Jul 2012
The Century Rig 7 at Harvey 1 Well, South West Hub CCS Project.
Photo courtesy of the Western Australian Government Department of Mines and Petroleum
The South West Hub could become Australia’s first major onshore CCS project, with the potential to capture and geosequester up to 6.5 million tonnes of CO2 per annum for 40 years from industrial emissions streams. As the first in a series of project profiles from around the world, this month focuses on the South West Hub Project’s progress and insights for the broader CCS community.
The South West CO2 Geosequestration Hub, known as the South West Hub, is 18 months into a four-year research project to determine the CO2 storage potential of the Lesueur Sandstone Formation in the southern Perth Basin.
The plan is for CO2 to be sent via pipelines from major industrial areas in Collie and Kwinana to a central site in the Harvey or Waroona shire, where injection wells would be used to pump the compressed CO2 into the Lesueur Sandstone Formation.
The South West Hub is a partnership between the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum and five major industrial companies operating in the South West of Western Australia.
South West Hub was chosen to be part of a global initiative to have 20 commercial-scale CCS projects active by 2020, and is the first CCS project in Australia to be granted flagship status. In 2011, it received a AU$52 million grant from the Australian Government’s AU$2 billion CCS Flagships Program – an initiative developed to help Australia meet its target of a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on 2000 levels by 2050.
Research outcomes reinforcing confidence in the Project
The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum is playing an important role in managing the early part of the South West Hub Project.
The Project has completed two phases of research to test the viability of CO2 geosequestration in the Lesueur. This research included:
- a 2D data acquisition survey which produced a clear indication of formation depth and faulting, and was used to locate a stratigraphic well; and
- core sample testing and data analysis of the Harvey 1 Well that has to date confirmed expectations about the area’s geology and reinforced confidence in the project.
The next phase of the research, to be carried out in late 2012, involves a 3D Seismic Survey over the area of interest. Three or four additional stratigraphic wells are planned to be drilled during 2013.
At this stage of the research and modelling, the Lesueur Sandstone Formation, which lies between 1.4 and 3 kilometres below the surface, is showing good potential as a storage site. The lower section of the Lesueur, known as the Wonnerup Member, could become a storage reservoir where the CO2 is trapped in the sandstone and partly dissolved in saline water.
The Upper Lesueur, or Yalgorup Member, and the Eneabba Formation lying above it would potentially form a seal over the reservoir, trapping the CO2 permanently.
The impact of new greenhouse gas legislation
The South West Hub Project is likely to be the first project operating under Western Australia’s proposed GHG legislation, due to be introduced to the WA State Parliament this year as amendments to the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 (PGERA 67) and the Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969.
These amendments will allow for GHG storage formation property rights, acreage release provisions and exploration, retention and injection licences as well as addressing long-term liability issues.
The injection and permanent storage of GHG in underground geological formations is not currently regulated in WA, with the exception of the Barrow Island Act 2003 which covers the Gorgon Gas Project.
Committed to maintaining high levels of communication with local community
The Lesueur Community Consultative Committee was established in August 2011, designing a communication strategy to ensure that the community has access to information concerning all stages of the project in the lead up to commercial decisions to be made in 2015.
The local population in the Harvey and Waroona shires (30,000) and surrounding areas in the South West (about 150,000) have been kept informed of the project’s progress as part of the South West Hub’s commitment to developing and maintaining clear and open communications with landowners, local shires and the local community.
The site under investigation was chosen, in part, because of the absence of an important fresh-water aquifer known as the Yarragadee Formation which is found in other parts of the Southern Perth Basin.
Economic and social considerations such as dairy farming routines and farming infrastructure are critical to the smooth operation of the 3D Seismic Survey and up to three Land Access Teams will have these considerations front of mind when direct communications with landowners and land users commence later this year.
The Institute supports the South West Hub Project within its current portfolio. Click here for more information on the Project, including completed knowledge reports and an outline of future deliverables.