Geology and Engineering of Carbon Capture and Storage

Course Description

Global leaders and decision-makers are well aware of the climate crisis and many are taking action to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing CO2 emissions. However, the demand for energy remains high, especially in areas that require heating and cooling, and currently much of the world’s energy is derived from hydrocarbons. Discussion of the ‘Energy Transition’, which is the shift from fossil-fuel based energy to renewable sources, seems ubiquitous in recent years, the transition is not as simple as that. Ensuring reliable access to energy in all jurisdictions is crucial, as are economic considerations. Combining a switch to renewables with an emission-reduction measures such as Carbon Capture and Storage is necessary in the path to carbon neutrality. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) refers to the capture of emitted CO2 from the atmosphere, transport, and eventual storage in geological structures. The basic concept is simple, but the execution is complex; it requires the identification of high-emission sites, detailed basin analysis to determine suitability and safety for carbon storage, engineering, economic analysis, and risk analysis before an informed decision to develop a CCS site can be made. This course will overview current energy challenges (the WHY), and geological and engineering basics of CCS (the HOW). Students will leave with a better understanding of this mitigation opportunity and how decisions can be made to pursue CCS in a given area.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the need to reduce atmospheric CO2 and the effects of climate change to the global climate system
  2. Understand the basic concepts involved in reservoir characterization
  3. Discuss suitability of developing CCS sites, considering proximity to emission source, geology and engineering
  4. Discuss social and economic considerations of CCS
  5. Discuss case studies of existing CCS operations

Course Outline

PART 1: Geoscience

  1. Introduction: Anthropogenic Atmospheric CO2 and the Need to Reduce Emissions
    1. Radiative Forcing of CO2 & Climate Change
    2. Energy Challenges and the Energy Transition
    3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Concept Intro
    4. The role of CCS in the path to Carbon Neutrality
  2. Geological Considerations: Basin Suitability
    1. Seismicity
    2. Depth
    3. Fault intensity
    4. Geothermal regimes
    5. On vs. Offshore Basins
    6. Accessibility
    7. Existing Petroleum/ Coal Resources
    8. Industry Maturity
  3. Identifying a Prospective Site
    1. Reservoir/Seal Criteria
  4. Detailed Site Characterization
    1. Structural and Stratigraphic Models
    2. Injectivity
    3. Containment
    4. Capacity
  5. Economic Evaluations
  6. Risk
  7. Monitoring
  8. Decision to Develop
  9. Types of CCS Facilities
    1. Case Study of operational CCS sites
  10. Wrap-Up and Exercises

PART 2: Engineering

  1. Introduction: The Engineering Context for CCS
    1. Sequestration Options: Carbon or CO2?
    2. The Behavior of CO2
    3. Capacity Estimation
    4. Injection Strategies
    5. Reservoir integrity Issues
    6. Monitoring and Optimization
  2. Sequestration Options
    1. The Various Storage and Sequestration Mechanisms
    2. The Need for Interim Storage – Salt Caverns, other…
    3. CO2 as a Sequestration Medium
    4. Direct Injection of Carbon-rich Solids – CH4 Harvesting
  3. The Behavior of CO2
    1. The Various Phases of CO2 with Pressure and Temperature
    2. Properties of CO2: Density, Viscosity, Solubility in H2O
    3. Impure CO2 impacts
  4. Capacity Estimates
    1. Pore Volume Access Concepts
    2. Porous Media Flow Instabilities Gravity instability, Capillary instability, Viscous fingering, Channelling
  5. Injection Strategies – Water-saturated Assumptions
    1. Vertical Well and Horizontal Well Options
    2. Down dip or Up-dip injection? Gravity Effects
    3. Pure? Pre-Mixed? Cyclic Water/CO2 Injection?
  6. Reservoir Integrity – Wellbores, Abandoned Wells
    1. Leakage Mechanisms, Corrosion…
  7. Monitoring and Optimization
    1. PVT & Q monitoring
    2. Deformation Monitoring – InSAR, Tilt, Others
    3. Microseismic Monitoring

Participants’ Profile

This course is designed for students and professionals in the geological and engineering fields who are interested in learning about the fundamentals of carbon capture and storage and modern energy challenges.


Participants should have prior knowledge of basic principles of geology and/or engineering.

About the Instructors

Grant Wach began his career advising worldwide for multinational companies. He still works with the energy sector but now as Professor of Geoscience at Dalhousie University he serves as a mentor, helping students become successful geoscientists. Wach’s research goal is to understand the reservoir component of CCUS and Geothermal systems; understanding the internal complexity of the reservoir is not easy but part of the path to Energy Sustainability, and Carbon Neutrality. These steps are part of the Energy Transition the World is now undergoing.

Professor Wach is an expert advisor to the Energy Sustainability Committee of the UNECE. The committee just released their technology brief on CCUS ( He has advised the Nova Scotia government on Carbon Storage and Sequestration and completed the first evaluation of basins in the Maritimes for Carbon Storage. He was principal Investigator of the Gas Seepage Project (GaSP) evaluating methane (CH4) emissions from coal and oil and gas extraction sites in Atlantic Canada. Wach is a member of Geothermal Canada, and has recently presented invited lectures on Geothermal Technology in Canada (Future Pathways- Geothermal Technology 2020) and at KAUST in Saudi Arabia.

Professor Wach completed his doctorate in Geology at the University of Oxford (D.Phil. Geology). He was the first recipient of the AAPG Foundation Professor of the Year Award in 2012 and received the CSPG Stanley Slipper Gold Medal 2018 for outstanding contributions to exploration and development, teaching and mentorship.

Maurice Dusseault is a Professional Engineer and Professor of Geological Engineering at the University of Waterloo, where he has taught and carried out geomechanics research since 1982. His research is focused on deep subsurface engineering issues including oil production, hydraulic fracturing, energy storage, geothermal energy, carbon sequestration, and deep injection disposal of granular solids and liquid wastes. He holds over 90 international patents and has about 600 full-text papers published in journals and conferences. Maurice is a well-known educator and consultant, an advisor to companies and governments on matters relating to energy development, hydraulic fracturing, energy geostorage, wellbore integrity, technology and innovation. Maurice is deeply interested in energy technologies that can be scaled to community levels to provide robust and reliable heat and power. These include integrating natural gas, hydrogen, compressed air energy storage, and heat geo-storage. Another important component of his research is environmental geomechanics: safe and permanent sequestration of carbon (CO2, petcoke, biosolids...), particulate solid slurries, and waste fluids through injection deep into sedimentary strata.