In the sector of oil and gas Petrobras has been using CO2 injection in mature onshore fields in northeast Brazil for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) purposes since the early 80s. More recently, for the offshore pre-salt Santos Basin development, the company has voluntarily committed to avoiding CO2 venting to the atmosphere in natural gas production operations. In 2013 Petrobras and its partners have started offshore EOR CO2 injection at Lula oil field, located in the Santos Basin ca. 300 kilometers of Rio de Janeiro coast.
The technical challenges related to the offshore production of high CO2 content natural gas, encompassing separation processes and CO2 reinjection in the pre-salt layer, are addressed by several R&D projects carried out by Petrobras and technical partners, such as local academy in Brazil, as well as technology developers both at the national and international scenarios.
From 2006 to 2015, the Company has invested more than US$ 115 million in 2 corporate programs (EMISSÕES and PRO-CO2) tailored to curb overall atmospheric emissions, as well as providing CO2 management best practices for the company´s production and operational facilities.
This has been accomplished at the national level by engaging in technical partnership with the Brazilian Academy, by means of “The Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change Thematic Network," encompassing 15 domestic institutions, with more than 53 projects currently at their implementation phase (around US$ 18 million invested in 2006 to 2015). One example of infrastructure established through the Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change Network is CEPAC (Center of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Petroleum, Mineral Resources and Carbon Storage), collaboration between Petrobras and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS).
Another important initiative is the establishment of Rio de Janeiro Federal University Excellence Natural Gas Center, totally sponsored by Petrobras, which is the largest of its kind in Latin America. The laboratories and pilot plants were tailored to perform experimental studies to assess CO2 separation processes from the natural gas coming from the pre-salt oil fields, as well as CO2 separation from the flue gas.
At the international level, PETROBRAS has adhered to several JIP’s covering themes relevant to CCS value chain. One of these being “The Carbon Capture Project” (CCP), which main goal is to encourage and support the development of next generation technologies likely to contribute to increasing cost-effectiveness, as well as helping to establish CCS on a world scale as a reliable and expedite CO2 emissions reduction strategy for the fossil energy sector. In 2015, The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) granted CCP international recognition for its pioneering work in CCS.
Other important achievement covering CO2 capture technologies from exhaust gas also have taken place, highlighting the development of the first PETROBRAS pre-industrial scale Oxy-combustion Technology Development for Fluid Catalytic Crackers (FCC). It is a pioneer, unprecedented initiative on a world basis, with promising prospects, both in terms of costs and emissions abatement. Data from the latest tests suggest that the oxy-combustion process could capture at least 90% of the CO2 emitted from industrial plants. And it is likely to correspond to at least 40% savings in terms of global costs, when compared to post-combustion technology.
The Company has also sponsored the development of field laboratories dedicated to technology deployment and assessment, covering CO2 Monitoring and Verification. An on-going R&D Project, carried out by CENPES experts and local academy representatives from 5 research groups in Brazil, is the start-up and development of the Brazilian CO2 Pilot Project. Currently entering its second phase, this field lab is the first of its kind in Latin America. Fully sponsored by PETROBRAS, it is 100% dedicated to testing multiple CO2 MMV techniques, with a long term goal of enabling the ranking of the best, most cost-effective MMV technology alternatives to be further deployed at commercial large scale CCS sites scheduled to be installed in the country.
Amongst PETROBRAS accomplishments in CO2 dedicated technology development, recently bestowed in the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), the highlights in CO2 separation are: “ First separation of CO2 associated with natural gas in ultra-deep waters (2,140 m)”, by injecting CO2 into production reservoirs (around 2MM ton CO2 at Santos Basin), and “Deepest CO2 gas injection well (water depth of 2,200 m).”
Specifically about carbon capture for coal sector, the Beneficent Association of Santa Catarina Coal Industry (SATC) and Brazilian Coal Association (ABCM) have worked hard since 2011 in projects to stablish low cost technologies for carbon capture. Around 3 million dollars has been applied in laboratory infrastructure (building of the first CO2 capture lab in the Latin America), synthesis of new sorbents (zeolites and enriched amines) using coal byproducts as fly ash, pilot plant facilities and capacity building projects. A pilot plant using a CO2 capture process based on the temperature swing adsorption has been designed to start the operation in 2018. Zeolites and enriched amines will be tested. A partnership with important institutions and companies as US-Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Adsorption Research Inc. (ARI), Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS), Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) it has given velocity in the development of the technology.