The role of the subsurface in the green transition
Over the next eight years, researchers in the NORCE-led Centre for Sustainable Subsurface Resources (CSSR) will develop new knowledge on how the subsurface can be used in the green shift.
Grand technical and societal challenges face us with the energy transition, which can more easily be solved through groundbreaking research, education and training, and industry-oriented solutions.
– This is where the CSSR project comes in, says Sarah Gasda, Centre Director for CSSR and Research Director for NORCE Energy. – Through this research centre we are investigating how we can extract oil and gas from the reservoirs smarter and more efficiently and how digitalization can help operators make science-based decisions. This research is crucial for operators as they shift to renewable energy sources for upstream operations, she explains. Operators cannot achieve their ambitions of eliminating emissions on the Norwegian by 2050 without help from subsurface research, she adds.
The CSSR project is a collaboration between NORCE and the University of Bergen and receives funding through the Research Centre for Petroleum Programme of the Research Council of Norway and also from industrial stakeholders.
Transforming the Norwegian Continental Shelf
Electrifying the NCS can serve two purposes: (1) reducing Norway's domestic emissions (by as much as 28%) to meet our climate goals and (2) maintaining a needed energy supply to Europe as carbon-intensive fuels are phased out, according to Sarah.
– In particular, the challenges in understanding and managing the reservoir related to variations in energy supply from renewable sources, as well as the opportunities that arise in connection with H2 and CO2 storage, are the basis for forming the three focus areas for the centre which are about subsurface understanding, reservoir management and achieving local zero emissions, Sarah explains.
She adds that there are more resources lying under the ocean floor than just oil and gas reservoirs. For example, mapped CO2 storage resources on the Norwegian continental shelf points to enough storage capacity for upwards of 15% of Europe’s decarbonization targets by 2050.
Depleted oil and gas reservoirs can actually be re-purposed for energy-storage in a net-zero society. A quick survey of 23 depleted fields on the NCS indicates around 800 TWh in H2 energy storage capacity. This is enough energy to replace natural gas as a heat source to more than 6 million UK households.
The centre is also directed towards solving industry-oriented challenges that will arise as more and more fields on the shelf are electrified. CSSR will develop new methods and associated computer software that are adapted to the new challenges that arise for decision makers as they navigate the intersection of electrification and conventional operations, combined with increased data access to existing fields.
For instance; the centre researchers will investigate if stable energy supply is a necessity, and to what extent a variable energy supply will affect recovery (as a mechanism to remedy variability in supply, energy storage will also be considered). Moreover, developing a methodology for assessing the re-use of petroleum reservoirs with a view to energy storage (in the form of H2) or CO2 storage. –These post-petroleum options will ensure a profitable transition where the shelf can potentially become an important climate measure in itself, says Sarah.
The project intends to ensure long-term value for the petroleum industry in the transition to a new energy landscape.
GCE Ocean Technology is one of the industry partners in the project.
– This is a very important competence area for several of our members and partners and GCE Ocean Technology will support the centre by organizing workshops and accommodate the dialogue between the centre and our members, says Senior R&D Manager Bjarte Fagerås.
Name: Centre for Sustainable Subsurface Resources (CSSR)
Description:”long-term targeted research initiative at a high international level.
Lifetime: 5+3 years
Project leader: NORCE
Research partner/education: University of Bergen
Industry partners: 3 operators, 3 technology companies,1 Industry cluster
International partners: 6 partners from EU and USA
Educational goal: >13 PhD/postdocs
Total budget: 170 mNOK (36% industry, 17% FoU)
Project start: 2022
Research themes: Reservoir modelling, multiphysics, optimization, hydrogen, CCS / CCUS: Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage
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