Brazilians innovate with sustainable CO2 reserve

Researchers from the Polytechnic School of USP, who work in a center funded by Shell and FAPESP, may have found a more sustainable solution for one of the major problems of pre-salt exploration. The project, which began in 2018, aims to improve the extraction and storage of natural gas in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

The new technology allows this storage of CO2 in saline caves beneath the sea bed in the pre-salt region. The carbonic gas would be injected into the site, in its liquid form, filling the cave and expelling the salt rock under high pressure. This pressure would help keep the cave stable and safe. Once fully filled, the site can be sealed and the gas stocked forever.

That is why the new technique is being very well seen, since it brings multiple advantages, for example: the propitious region for storage is in the same place as the exploration and production of natural gas; Brazil already has knowledge for drilling wells in more complex regions of the pre-salt; The storage of gas allows the extraction of larger quantities of oil, since they are associated at the time of withdrawal.

The pre-salt region is home to a large amount of oil associated with natural gas, so it is impossible to remove the oil without the gas. This gas that comes with oil at the time of exploration is rich in carbon dioxide (CO2), moreover, it is not interesting for consumption and is one of the main responsible for the greenhouse effect.

Currently, a lengthy, costly and dangerous separation process is made: useful gas is separated from CO2 within the fields of exploration, so carbon dioxide is stored in the region and can escape.

The first tests in the laboratory will begin in 2020 and, in 2022, it should occur, for the first time in history, the perforation of a saline cave under the sea bed.

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