When injected in deep saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas reservoirs, supercritical CO2 remains mobile and can, therefore, migrate through any conduits or fractures. In addition, public opinion, regulations and the lack of space for CO2 injection in some densely populated regions of the world such as the Japanese archipelago encourage investigating other alternatives such as carbon dioxide sequestration in deepwater sub-seabed formations.
This paper intends to present a technical feasibility study of CO2 sequestration in deepwater sediments offshore Japan. The main processes, technical requirements, technologies and structures that are currently available to transport and inject liquid CO2 successfully in sub-seabed formations below 9,000 feet of water (˜2,750 meters) are first discussed. Then, three storage sites situated offshore Japan; one located in the Northwest Pacific Ocean near the island of Shikoku; another located in the Sea of Japan near the island of Honshu; and the last one located farther in the Northwest Pacific Ocean in ultra-deepwater (18,000 feet); are selected to conduct reservoir simulations.
From this study, it appears that CO2 capturing technologies and transporting means seem to be at a mature stage. Also, current and newest 5th and 6th generation drilling vessels are estimated to be capable of drilling very shallow wells in water depths greater than 9,000 feet and even in ocean waters as deep as 18,000 feet if new materials such as titanium or composite for riser systems were to be deployed for both the drilling and CO2 injection operations. However, CO2 storing and injection facilities are not available yet to unload large quantities of CO2 offshore. As a result, some concepts should be designed, qualified and tested for these large scale operations within the next decade to demonstrate through pilot projects the technical feasibility of CO2 sequestration in sub-seabed geological formations.
Additionally, the main findings from this comparative study and reservoir simulations conducted at three different sites located offshore Japan confirm that a significant part of ultra-deepwater regions with at least 9,000 feet of ocean water and planar seafloor are appropriate for CO2 storage. Secondly, reservoir models confirm that due to high pressures and low temperatures reigning at water depths greater than 9,000 feet, the liquid CO2 injected in the first few hundred feet of sediments has a higher density than the surrounding formation pore-fluid and therefore remains buoyantly trapped under certain condition of geothermal gradient, sediments permeability and formation pressure and; hence constitute a valid and safe CO2 storage candidate.