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Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large emissions sources such as industrial plants and storing it underground in geological reservoirs, so that it doesn’t enter the atmosphere. Too much CO2 in the atmosphere contributes to the risk of global climate change.

Analysis by the International Energy Agency, International Panel on Climate Change, and others conclude that the lowest cost pathway to net zero requires the deployment of a portfolio of low emission technologies including CCS. 

CO2CRC is a scientific not-for-profit organisation specialising in carbon capture and storage research. CO2CRC uses naturally stored CO2 in experiments and demonstration projects at the Otway International Test Centre (OITC). Examination of the natural CO2 storage system at the OITC has provided great insights into any long-term effects of CO2 within reservoirs, which can be used in the planning of CCS storage projects worldwide. 

Whilst some sites or even regions are not suitable for CCS, there are many regions and sites that are suitable. The Northern Territory is fortunate in that has vast areas of its adjacent offshore basins that are not only suitable for CCS, but suitable for very large-scale and long-term CCS. The NT thus has the opportunity to play a key role on its own, as well as Australia’s and its energy partners in the Asia-Pacific’s, decarbonisation strategies for decades to come. 

CO2 that is produced with natural gas at its Ichthys LNG Field in the Browse Basin will be separated and then stored permanently once again in a deep sub-seabed geological formation in the Bonaparte Basin. Beyond CO2 from natural gas processing, the proposed CCS Hub on Darwin’s Middle Arm peninsula has the potential for CO2 from multiple emitters to be captured, aggregated into a single stream and then transported to the Bonaparte CCS offshore injection site. The CCS Hub is likely to also include common marine infrastructure for the import of CO2 from overseas. 

The key technical components of CCS are well-established and represent very mature technologies. The four key components that comprise CCS are CO2 Capture, Compression, 

Transportation and Injection. 

These are: 

Capture. CO2 capture technology has been in use since the 1920s and is undertaken routinely in gas and LNG production. 

Compression. Following capture of the CO2, it needs to be transported to the storage site. To reduce the volume of the CO2 and thereby make transportation by pipeline or ship easier, (the CO2 is compressed down into a dense, liquid-like state that comprises a fraction of the original gas’s volume. Gas compression is routine at LNG facilities. 

Transportation. Gas transportation at scale is usually achieved via pipelines or ships. In Europe and Asia, ships for CO2 transportation are under construction, with the first expected to begin operations by 2025-26. CO2 is transported safely, at scale every day, all over the world through pipelines. 

Injection. Once it reaches the storage site, the CO2 is pumped or injected underground using the same drilling technologies that have been used in the oil and gas sector for well over 100 years. The CO2 is pumped down and injected into a porous and permeable geological reservoir the injected CO2 then forms a CO2 “plume” that moves away from the well. The CO2 within the plume is then either progressively trapped as it migrates), dissolves into the water in the reservoir or reacts with the rocks and water to form minerals. 

CCS is a mature and proven technology that will form a key component of the international, national and state-based decarbonisation plans. The roll-out of CCS projects across Australia will allow the decarbonisation of existing industries and enable future developments to be planned as low emission ventures from inception and meet Australia’s emissions targets of 43 per cent by 2030 and net Zero by 2050. 

For information on Carbon Capture and Storage, visit: