The challenge:

To make NSW carbon dioxide (CO2) storage ready and quantify the CO2 storage potential in regional NSW. This work will help pave the way for emissions reductions while supporting industries and jobs in NSW. A carbon storage solution would also support new and emerging industries such as clean hydrogen production and direct air capture.

The action:

Coal Innovation NSW (CINSW) is coordinating the NSW CO2 Storage Assessment Project which aims to ‘make NSW CO2 storage ready’. To achieve this, CINSW is exploring regional NSW to identify safe and secure sites for potential geological storage of CO2.

The project:

Conventional Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) sites permanently store CO2 in geological formations deep underground. Compared to most other states in Australia, NSW's deep sedimentary basins are virtually unexplored.

To address this knowledge gap, CINSW, through the NSW CO2 Storage Assessment Project, is undertaking a statewide assessment to identify potential storage opportunities in NSW.

Stage 1 explored two potential sites in NSW

The Carbon Storage Taskforce identified the Darling Basin and Sydney Basin as national priorities for exploration in 2009.

In Stage 1A, four stratigraphic wells were drilled in the Sydney Basin. Work was completed in 2012 and the wells showed limited CO2 storage potential, hence looking further west to the Darling Basin.

In Stage 1B, which commenced in 2014, two stratigraphic wells were drilled in the Darling Basin in western NSW, near Wilcannia. The Tiltagoonah-1 well is in the Nelyambo trough and the Mena Murtee-1 well is in the Pondie range trough.

Data from the Mena Murtee-1 well in the Pondie Range trough indicated a potential storage site. Analysis and modelling of this area identified multiple porous sandstone reservoirs with the potential to store 555 million tonnes of CO2. This is equivalent to all NSW industrial emissions (non-electricity) created over a forty-year period.

Stage 2 builds on previous exploration

Stage 2 aims to verify and build on the early results from the Darling Basin (stage 1B).

It will improve our understanding of the stratigraphy, geological structure, reservoir and seal properties, and hydrogeology of the targeted sub-basins - Pondie Range and Poopelloe Lake troughs.

The first part of the Stage 2 program is a low-impact seismic survey over four weeks from May 2021 (weather permitting). The survey will be carried out along approximately 200km of seismic lines north of Wilcannia.

For more details on Stage 1 and 2 exploration visit Darling Basin drilling program.

The seismic lines are located within the Department of Regional NSW’s existing exploration licence (EL8066). More information about this licence can be found by searching for the title at minview.geoscience.nsw.gov.au

The survey will take place on privately owned properties north of Wilcannia, existing road easements and fence-line tracks. Minor clearing of vegetation along these tracks may be needed. Any clearing will be carried out in accordance with relevant regulations by local contractors.

The data collected will be used to build more accurate geological models of the region, which will enable a more robust assessment of the CO2 storage potential of the troughs. It will also be made publicly available and will be a valuable source of information for government, industry and researchers.

For further information
Coal Innovation NSW
ccs.info@planning.nsw.gov.au