Obstacles to Capturing Carbon Gas

2011-08-04 07:59 by Anja Reitz

Obstacles to Capturing Carbon Gas

That is the goal of carbon capture and sequestration, which is a process for trapping carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere and then pumping it underground, or under the seabed.

The process is already used by oil and natural gas companies like BP and Statoil at sites like In Salah, Algeria. There, the carbon dioxide that exists along with natural gas is captured and stored onshore in a saline aquifer.

Despite a tiny leak from a faulty wellhead valve four years ago, and despite the need to reduce the quantities of carbon dioxide injected because pressure had built up in the saline aquifer faster than expected, BP of Britain and Statoil of Norway said, millions of tons of the greenhouse gas have been prevented from reaching the atmosphere.

Oil and natural gas companies also have trapped large amounts of carbon dioxide in the minute pores and spaces in rocks at similar projects in countries like Norway and Canada.

But efforts to make the process, known as C.C.S., a mainstay of efforts by the power industry to go green are hitting obstacles.

Critics warn that a large leak could harm the climate and local populations. They also say huge amounts of state support would be needed to pay for infrastructure like pipelines, taking money away from renewable energy projects.

Supporters say the technology is essential if the world is ever to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gases and preventing runaway climate change. They say C.C.S. is the most viable way to curb emissions from existing fossil fuel plants and that it should be cost-competitive in the coming years.


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Source: New York Times - Green Column by James Kanter July 31, 2011

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