LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Australia's prime minister-elect Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the country's carbon tax to boost economic competitiveness, so it is ironic that Australia is about to host the world's most ambitious project for capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground.
Starting in 2014/15, Chevron will begin injecting 120 million tonnes of pressurised supercritical carbon dioxide 2.5 kilometres (1.55 miles) underground as part of its giant Gorgon LNG project.
Raw gas from the Gorgon field contains about 14 percent carbon dioxide (CO2), which must be separated out and safely disposed of before the purified methane can be liquefied and sold.
Under an ambitious programme agreed with the state and federal governments back in 2009, Chevron will inject the CO2 into a saline aquifer beneath Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia.
Chevron is spending $2 billion on the world's largest CO2-injection facility, which will store over 3 million tonnes per year, making it by far the world's largest CO2 storage project, and creating a unique opportunity to study how injected CO2 behaves underground in saline aquifers.
Barrow Island is a Class A nature reserve and carbon dioxide is fatal to humans in concentrations as low as 7-15 percent. So Chevron has conducted extensive seismic surveys and drilling to estimate the aquifer's storage capacity and ensure it will not leak.
The company has also promised to monitor the underground movement of the CO2 plume as it spreads away from the initial injection wells using 4-dimensional seismic surveys.
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