ARTICLE 8: Series Conclusion

This series has explored the key technical distinctions between CO2 storage projects and traditional hydrocarbon production. While there are undeniable synergies – a shared knowledge base in geosciences, reservoir engineering, and project management –  significant differences emerge upon closer examination.

Leveraging Existing Expertise:

The oil and gas industry offers a valuable talent pool of geoscientists, engineers, and project developers. Their expertise in reservoir characterisation, wellbore construction, and safety procedures translates directly to CO2 storage. Additionally, existing software tools and workflows can be adapted to address CCUS challenges. This shared knowledge base presents a significant cost advantage for CCUS projects.

Shifting Focus: CCUS Specifics and Decarbonisation Goals

Figure 1: Modelling CO2 in the subsurface: CO2 plume extent after a 37.5 Mt injection is illustrated in magenta.
Schematic (S-N) through the 31/5-7 (Eos) CO2 confirmation well.
Credit: Equinor Open Access Offshore CCS Project Data 2020, based on CGG seismic data.

However, a fundamental shift in focus is necessary. CCUS project success hinges on a deep understanding of CO2 behaviour in the subsurface (Figure 1), particularly in capillary-dominated flow regimes. Traditional reservoir simulators, optimised for shorter timescales and Darcy flow, may not fully capture the complexities of long-term CO2 storage forecasting.  CO2 storage involves much longer timeframes and exhibits complex flow behaviour due to factors like buoyancy forces and capillary trapping.

Some potential solutions for CO­­2 storage forecasting include:

  1. Modifying existing simulators to account for CO­2 specific properties and multiphase flow regimes relevant to long-term CO­2 storage.
  2. Educating teams to use simulators that are capable of incorporating multiphase flow modes, geochemical reactions and geomechanical concerns for a more accurate representation of CO­2 behaviour over extended periods.
  3. Implementing a hybrid model approach integrating both Darcy flow models, for near-wellbore environments, and modified invasion percolation or capillary dominated flow models, for larger scales. This dual approach allows for better representation of the CO­2 behaviour within the model.
  4. Exploring the potential of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to improve CO­2 storage capacity calculations and plume migration patterns prediction. However, limited publicly available data is available for training such models.
  5. Implementing and continuously refining state-of-the-art monitoring techniques, such as time-lapse seismic imaging and downhole sensors, to continuously track CO2 migration and validate model predictions. Robust monitoring strategies are crucial for ensuring storage permanence and mitigating leakage risks.

Beyond Technical Expertise: The Socio-Economic Landscape

The socio-economic drivers for CCUS projects diverge significantly from those of oil and gas production. CCUS is primarily driven by climate change mitigation and achieving net-zero emissions.  Securing financing, navigating public concerns, and implementing carbon pricing mechanisms are crucial considerations.  The success of CCUS hinges not just on technical expertise, but also on the development of viable business models, fostering public trust through effective engagement strategies, and highlighting the economic benefits of CCUS, such as job creation in green sectors. Policy support and incentives are critical to overcoming financial and public perception barriers.

The Road Ahead: A New-Format CCUS Industry

The future of CCUS demands a paradigm shift, moving beyond simply “adding CCUS” to existing activities. It is essential for the industry to focus on creating dedicated “CO2 storage resources” and establishing CCUS infrastructure hubs. These hubs should be integrated with renewable energy sources to create comprehensive decarbonisation clusters around industrial centres. This approach not only accelerates large-scale carbon sequestration, but also supports broader climate goals by ensuring that industrial emissions are effectively managed.


Rapidly scaling up CCUS deployment is not just important, but is imperative for achieving global decarbonisation goals. The industry must act swiftly to innovate and refine CCUS-specific tools and workflows, alongside collaborative efforts from governments, researchers, and the public. Together we can build a “new-format” CCUS industry, focused on collaboration, infrastructure development and effective public engagement. Standardised regulations and comprehensive policy support are critical for ensuring a sustainable and climate-resilient future.

Merlin Energy: Addressing the challenges of CO­2 Storage

Merlin is poised to assist clients with a suite of services tailored to the unique challenges of CO2 storage. We offer expertise in:

  • Reservoir characterisation for CO2 storage application.
  • Tailored CO2 injection strategies that optimise storage capacity and security.
  • Development of comprehensive risk assessments to mitigate potential leakage risks.
  • Collaboration with clients to develop innovative workflows essential for long-term modelling and monitoring, ensuring compliance with evolving regulatory standards.

While Merlin provides the technical expertise, achieving large-scale decarbonisation requires broader support and collaboration from the industry, the public and policymakers. Tomorrow, Friday 5th July, the UK faces a pivotal moment to clarify its path forward for CCUS. We look forward to a future where robust carbon taxation frameworks, supportive fiscal regimes, and a skilled workforce in CO2 storage technologies come together to create a sustainable future.


  1. Ringrose, P.S., Andrews, J., Zweigel, P., Furre, A-K., Hern, B., & Nazarian, B. (2022, October). Why CCS is not like reverse gas engineering. First Break, 40(10), 85-91.
  2. Bebb, Florence Letitia, Evans, Kate Clare Serena, Mukherjee, Jagannath, Saeed, Bilal, and Geovani Christopher. “Understanding the Flow Dynamics of CO2 Plumes in the Subsurface.” Paper presented at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 2021. Doi: