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Most experts agree stored CO2 will stay underground for centuries

Injecting CO2 underground will only help reduce buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere if the CO2 stays underground for a long time. If the injection is done in the right places, says a 2005 special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), at least 99% of it should, for hundreds or thousands of years.1

This statement is consistent with early large-scale field experience injecting CO2 into two types of geologic formations. The first — injecting CO2 into oil wells to encourage more oil out — was not invented for use in carbon capture and storage systems, but can be adapted for this.2 The first major demonstration of CO2 storage via so-called "enhanced oil recovery" began in 2000 when CO2 captured at a North Dakota energy facility began being piped to an oil field in Canada and injected at a rate of over one million tons per year.3

The second types of formations being tested for CO2 storage are so-called saline aquifers, which contain layers of salty water, sand, and rocks at least a half mile down and isolated from underground fresh water aquifers is the Sleipner Project, in which CO2 is being injected below the floor of the North Sea (about one million tons per year of CO2).  The Sleipner injection project began in 1996, and careful monitoring in the intervening years has shown no leakage.  A project of similar scale and scope has been running since 2004 at a site in Algeria, with the CO2 being injected in this case below the surface of the desert.  Again, monitoring has shown no leakage in the five years the project has been operating. A project of similar scale and scope has been running since 2004 at a site in Algeria, with the CO2 being injected in this case below the surface of the desert. Again, monitoring has shown no leakage in the five years the project has been operating.4

While there are geologic locations globally where CCS will not work, scientists believe there are many places where secure storage is feasible. The governments of the G-8 countries first called in 2008 for 20 large-scale CO2 storage demonstration projects to confirm this.5 The G-8 leaders reiterated this call in 2009.6

References
  1. IPCC, 2005: IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. (PDF) Prepared by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Metz, B., O. Davidson, H. C. de Coninck, M. Loos, and L. A. Meyer (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 442 pp.
  2. Kuuskraa, Vello. “Can We Reliably and Safely Store Large Amounts of CO2 Underground as a Climate Change Strategy?,” (PDF) Fourth Annual SECA Meeting Seattle, WA, April 2003. Link.
  3. Petroleum Technology Research Centre. Weyburn-Midale CO2 Project.
  4. Hermanruda,, Christian, and Terje Andresena. Storage of CO2 in saline aquifers – lessons learned from 10 years of injection into the Utsira Formation in the Sleipner area. (PDF) Elsevier, 2009.
  5. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Leaders Declaration. (Full text) Hokkaido Toyako: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, July 8, 2008.
  6. "G8 Leaders Declaration on responsible leadership for a sustainable future." (PDF) G8 2009 Summit, L’Aquila, Italy, July 2009.

Gallery

Early vs. Late Snowmelt Satellite-derived images comparing the first full week of April in years with early (2002) vs. late (2008) snowmelt.