Former Property Rights Australia chairman and local landholder Dale Stiller asks a question of the CTSCo representatives at an information session in Wandoan in 2016.
Former Property Rights Australia chairman and local landholder Dale Stiller asks a question of the CTSCo representatives at an information session in Wandoan in 2016. Matthew Newton

Controversial carbon storage project hits major milestone

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A CONTROVERSIAL carbon capture and storage project that hopes to trial injecting liquid CO2 into the Great Artesian Basin has reached a new milestone.

Carbon Transport and Storage Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore, believes it should have final scientific studies completed within months, and hopes to apply for environmental permits to inject 60,000 tonnes of liquid CO2 a year into the Great Artesian Basin's Precipice Sandstone Aquifer at Wandoan by the year's end.

The "super-critical" liquid CO2, with half the density of water, would dissolve into the aquifer's water, acidifying it to a pH of 5. Water has a pH of 7.

The Chronicle can reveal CTSCo has completed a key modelling study that shows the plume of acidified water would remain within the confines of its Glencore-owned property, 15km west of Wandoan.

If the modelling had shown the plume escaping the boundaries of the property, the trial project would not have gone ahead.

A CTSCo spokeswoman said the modelling "was carried out using commercial oil and gas reservoir modelling software" with inputs from seismic data, precipice sandstone core samples, regional water data and water modelling data from the Queensland Office of Ground Water Assessment, and CO2 plume behaviour history from a range of existing CO2 injection projects around the world.

"The modelling shows how the plume moves as CO2 is injected and long after injection stops. The modelling carried out, in all cases, shows the plume remaining well within the boundaries of the Glenhaven property indefinitely," the spokeswoman said, adding the company could stop the injection if the plume did not behave as predicted.

The company is eyeing off 2021 as the year of its first injection.

CTSCo is currently in talks with the Millmerran Power Station, owned and operated by Intergen, to provide CO2 for the project.

"A post combustion capture plant would be constructed at the power station to capture some of the CO2 that would otherwise be discharged to the atmosphere. 

"For up to three years during injection, CO2 would be trucked from the power station to the Glenhaven property (3-5 trucks per day)," the spokeswoman said.

The project has not been without its controversies.

When it was first announced to the Wandoan community at a meeting in late 2016, a 50-strong room of locals unanimously objected to the proposal.

In March this year, Callide MP Colin Boyce, whose electorate includes Wandoan, used his maiden speech in the Queensland Parliament to slam the plan, saying, "The people of Callide do not want another Linc Energy fiasco".

Wandoan resident Bill Blackley discussing concerns over carbon sequestration with Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier, Member for Callide Colin Boyce and Senator Matt Canavan.Photo contributed
Wandoan resident Bill Blackley discussing concerns over carbon sequestration with Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier, Member for Callide Colin Boyce and Senator Matt Canavan.Photo contributed Contributed

CTSCo has confirmed there are no plans to turn the trial project into an industrial-scale operation at Wandoan.

"The site at Glenhaven would continue to be used as a grazing property both during and after injection," the company spokeswoman said.

"Ongoing monitoring would continue (using the monitoring wells installed prior to injection) for years after injection stops to ensure the CO2 remains contained within the geology as predicted."

The company has turned its attention to the southern Surat Basin as a site of potential future industrial-scale carbon capture and storage.

"We are currently looking for a suitable location in the southern Surat Basin, somewhere west of Moonie, closer to the existing power stations in the region.

"Many of these power stations will operate up to or beyond 2050 and consequently require a long-term emissions solution.

"For an industrial scale project, we are ultimately looking for a very deep sandstone formation that can contain large volumes of CO2."

The project is funded by Australian Coal Association Low Emissions Technologies to the tune of $15.24 million, and received $8.775 million from the Federal Government's Carbon Capture and Storage Research Development and Demonstration Fund in August 2016, announced by Senator Matt Canavan.