The ECO2 project sets out to assess the risks associated with the storage of CO2 below the seabed. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is regarded as a key technology for the reduction of CO2 emissions from power plants and other sources at the European and international level.
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The EU will hence support a selected portfolio of demonstration projects to promote, at industrial scale, the implementation of CCS in Europe. Several of these projects aim to store CO2 below the seabed. However, little is known about the short-term and long-term impacts of CO2 storage on marine ecosystems even though CO2 has been stored sub-seabed in the North Sea (Sleipner) for over 13 years and for one year in the Barents Sea (Snøhvit).
Against this background, the ECO2 project assesses the likelihood of leakage and impact of leakage on marine ecosystems. In order to do so ECO2 studies a sub-seabed storage site in operation since 1996 (Sleipner, 90 m water depth), a recently opened site (Snøhvit, 2008, 330 m water depth), and a potential storage site located in the Polish sector of the Baltic Sea (B3 field site, 80 m water depth) covering the major geological settings to be used for the storage of CO2. Novel monitoring techniques are being applied to detect and quantify the fluxes of formation fluids, natural gas, and CO2 from storage sites and to develop appropriate and effective monitoring strategies.
Field work at storage sites is supported by modelling and laboratory experiments and complemented by process and monitoring studies at natural CO2 seeps that serve as analogues for potential CO2 leaks at storage sites. ECO2 also investigates the perception of marine CCS in the public and develop effective means to disseminate the project results to stakeholders and policy makers. Finally, a best practice guide for the management of sub-seabed CO2 storage sites is being developed applying the precautionary principle and valuing the costs for monitoring and remediation.