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Future plans 
    & 

project 

proposals 

  

Memo by Alvar Braathen and Snorre Olaussen, Longyearbyen CO2 Lab, 10.03.2015:

14.  Frontline CO2 storage in Longyearbyen; ambitions for 2016-2020

This Memo outlines ambitions and plans for new R&D efforts in the Longyearbyen CO2 Lab, covering the years 2016-
2020. A key element in this plan is injection of CO2, which has implications for topside and subsurface infrastructure. 

This plan requires:

1. Permit to inject 100.000 tons CO2 for research purposes.
2. Topside CO2 source available, with small-scale capture from the Longyearbyen power station (coal combusting) 

as the prime choice.

3. Injection well designed that can withstand CO2 exposure, with instrumentation, covering sufficient contact area 

to the explored upper Triassic sandstones and access to unexplored Carboniferous-Permian units making up a 
deeper reservoir succession.

4. Scientifically motivated CO2 injection that supply hard facts on injectivity, storability, containment and plume 

behavior in dual porosity-permeability rocks, which generates beyond-state-of-the-art knowledge advances.

Motivation:

How will investments in Longyearbyen benefit government and industry? 

Firstly, the current CO2 pilot projects in Europe show a strong decline, in which basically all pilots are decommis-

sioned or cancelled. As these pilots are test sites for maturing technology and building public confidence, they are 
strongly in demand. We have to keep maturing the CCS technology if we believe this avenue represent a part of our 
future. Op. cit. Christensen (2015), we have to target our known unknowns and unknown unknowns to advance.

Secondly, Longyearbyen CO2 lab as a test site for CO2 storage covers six key aspects, very different but all critical 

in order to move CCS technology forward from concept to industrial-scale storage; 

• varied and challenging reservoirs will yield new broad generic knowledge and understanding around subsurface 

fluid mobility and confinement, 

• Svalbard’s geology is unique; this is the only place in Norway where the rocks of the offshore shelf (hosting all 

our oil-gas fields) comes on-land. Accordingly, this is the only place we can test CO2 storage with low-cost versus 
large data gain operations,

• Longyearbyen’s location in the Arctic frontier will enhance Norwegian operational capacity in an extremely harsh 

climatic environment that will benefit future enterprises such as major oil-gas projects of the high north, 

• Longyearbyen is located in the High Arctic, with a small population familiar with subsurface technical operations 

from mining. This community does not object to CO2 storage testing, contrary to strong protests encountered in 
more densely populated areas in Europe.

• Longyearbyen needs new jobs, to counteract the current challenges facing the SNSK mining company. A CO2 

storage lab will create 4-6 jobs in Longyearbyen, spanning from well site technicians to engineers.

• Longyearbyen could become a renowned showcase for Norwegian CCS policy, based in the fact that a uniquely 

large group of profiled decision makers, politicians and other prominent persons visit Longyearbyen every year. 
In previous years the UNIS and Longyearbyen CO2 lab have been the focal point for these visits.

The well park in the Adventdalen will in addition be a suitable international Arctic test site for the oil-gas-CO2 storage 
industry. 

• EOR studies in unconventional reservoirs 
• R&D studies on production and stimulation of tight/shale gas-oil
• Drilling in the Arctic will have several challenges 1) testing environmentally friendly additives in drilling muds 2) 

low temperature drilling 3) drilling in  permafrost 4) cementation of onshore wells under freezing conditions i.e. 
top section of the well .       

• Material testing   

Permit to inject CO2:

The Norwegian Ministry of the Environment is currently assessing a proposal submitted by the UNIS CO2 Lab AS to 

allow research injection and storage of up to 100.000 tons of CO2 in the subsurface near Longyearbyen. A positive 

outcome coupled with a local plan for land use is expected late in 2015.

CO2 source:

The currently explored option is to use Aker Clean Carbon’s mobile CO2 capture unit, mounted on the flue gas stream 

of the Longyearbyen power station. This facility can be run in periods of lower power demand, with expected capture 
of 2-5000 tons/year. Captured CO2 can be stored in tanks, and transported to the injector well by truck when re-

quired. Injection will be organized as campaigns within the framework of scientifically motivated tests.

Other options include import of CO2 on ship, supplied from the Snøhvit field, or a diesel engine capturing its own CO2 

emission for injection. Both these options have major challenges around cost and time-span of operations.

Drilling and required well designs:

• Fully cored, 500-m deep slim-hole well in Sassendalen, coring the hereunto unexplored Permian section  that 

makes up a deep (at ca. 2000 m depth) reservoir below Longyearbyen.

• Drill new slim hole well in UNIS CO2 LAB Well Park to approx. 570 m. Test gas flow into the organic rich  lower part 

of the Agardhfjellet Formation to confirm gas from shales then undertake  two campaigns of isolated injection 
into organic shales; first rock stimulation LOT using water and slurry, followed by a similar LOT using CO2 instead 

of water. 

• Wild-cat well in Adventdalen (next to Longyearbyen), targeting Permian units at ca 2000 m depth with a highly 

oblique penetration, also including a side-track subhorizontal drilling into upper Triassic units at ca. 800 m depth.