Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a hot topic for Australia’s oil and gas industry. As the nation continues to navigate the energy transition, it is expected to become increasingly important.
It has been recognized by groups such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and International Energy Agency (IEA) as an important technology to help achieve a net-zero future, and Australia, with its natural advantages in geology and infrastructure, is in a prime place to emerge as a global leader in the development of CCS hubs.
That’s why it’s important to ensure experts are on hand to help navigate a smooth transition. Global energy consultancy Xodus works within several energy sectors, from offshore wind and oil and gas to hydrogen and marine energy, to deliver a responsible energy future.
Simon Allison, Xodus’s Asia Pacific Regional Director, possesses more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry and has been working with oil and gas clients on multiple CCS projects in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
He explains that Xodus has completed multiple technical studies for onshore and offshore CCS projects, providing a wealth of material for clients in the crucial early stages of development planning.
“We know just how important CCS is to Australia’s story in reaching net zero,” says Simon.
“The environmental impact assessment of CCS activities can be a challenge, given the increasing focus from regulators and stakeholders.
“But by implementing innovative and effective methods and working within integrated teams, we can navigate this challenge and provide timely outcomes and certainty.”
The scope of this work is extensive, including identification, vendor engagement, and evaluation of technologies. This process helps clients to simplify some of the complexities around securing greenhouse gas (GHG) storage offshore consenting regimes, navigating the important work of ensuring petroleum title permits and GHG storage activities can co-exist with other non-petroleum activities.
In addition, Xodus advises clients on securing acreage releases, and how best to repurpose existing infrastructure for CCS hubs. It’s a collaboration that lasts from initial assessment and selection through to FEED and delivery phases, providing troubleshooting and testing during commissioning and operation.
“Process and equipment technology selection is a key area for CCS projects to ensure the optimisation of an integrated CCS process system to meet performance and energy usage objectives,” Simon explains.
“Xodus personnel provide value to operators in the early phase of development understanding the application and integration within the overall process system to achieve optimum results.”
In October 2021, the Northern Territory Government and industry members (including Xodus) signed a collaboration agreement with CSIRO to develop the business case for a CCS hub at Middle Arm.
Dr Andrew Ross, a principal research scientist at CSIRO leading this work at, has been researching the contractual, fiscal and collaboration methods to establish large-scale CCS hub development both in Europe and Australia.
He explains that “CCS is a proven technology that has been successfully deployed for decades and it has been demonstrated that CO2 can be stored safely. If you look at future emissions reduction models, including the IEA’s, they all have a CCS component,” Andrew says.
“One of the requirements for low emission hub developments is a clear and cogent business case for their development, which are quite often delivered in partnership between industry, government, and an independently operated intermediary, in this case CSIRO.”
Simon adds that collaborating with independent research bodies such as CSIRO isn’t just beneficial for expediting CCS development, but crucial to the long-term success of CCS as a method of reaching current Australian net-zero policies.
“A good analogy might be, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’,” he says.
“While collaboration in Australia’s oil and gas industry has lacked historically, attitudes are different today, particularly regarding CCS. The competitive advantage afforded by CCS hubs really allow the efficiencies of scale necessary to turn projects into a reality to come to the fore.”