Application of noble gas signatures in monitoring schemes for offshore CO2 storage (ICO2P)

The ICO2P-project is a study appointed by CLIMIT and researches whether noble gases are suitable monitoring tracers for long-term, safe storage of CO2 on the Norwegian continental shelf. It is a continuation of a feasibility study and runs for 3.5 years (2018-2021).


ICO2P will contribute to the development of climate change mitigation by Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Norway. Reliable monitoring fundamentally increases confidence in CCS and could lead to the needed upscaling of CCS, which may be crucial in reaching the goal of 40% national emission cuts within 2030. ICO2P aims to design source-specific leakage detection and monitoring schemes for Norwegian CO2 storage sites and provide a background data set of natural occurrences of noble gases in the environment.

Facts on Noble Gases

Group 18 in the periodic table: He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe ...

Common features:

Highly chemically unreactive.

Inherent in oil and gas.

No environmental hazard.

Their specific signature allows fluid identification.


The research objective is tackled by sampling CO2 rich gases, mainly in Norway and analyze them on noble gas content. Sampling campaigns are e.g. conducted at the capture research institution Technology Center Mongstad (TCM) and Equinor’s CCS plant at Melkøya, where CO2 is already successfully captured and stored in significant amounts.

Experiments are tailored to the application of the miniRUEDI-instrument, a portable mass spectrometer developed by our project partners at ETH/Eawag [1]. It is unique in its ability to measure low concentrations of noble gases (He, Ne, Kr, Xe, Ar), as well as CH4, CO2 and N2 on-site and semi-continuously. With the sampling campaigns, we cover temporal variation in the noble gas concentrations, potentially being a significant step forward compared to analysing noble gas isotopes in single samples [2].

Even though, successfully used for leakage detection at small-scale CO2 storage facilities, at field analogues and in connection with Enhanced Oil Recovery-projects [3], single samples are costly and time-consuming to analyse. Nevertheless, due to their accuracy and precision, single samples play a significant role in our research.

Further, we take part in injection experiments at field laboratories such as the Svelvik CO2 field lab. Here, we apply monitoring tools and investigate the behaviour of CO2 and noble gases in the underground.

Financing and cooperation

The project started in June 2018 and proceeds for three years. Anja Sundal is the project manager and Ulrich Weber the PhD student.The ICO2P-project is building on experiences achieved in a feasibility study (funded under CLIMIT grant number 616220) and receives funding from CLIMIT, the national Norwegian research programme on CO2 handling (Project number: 280551).

We closely cooperate with researchers at ETH/Eawag, the main Swiss aquatic research institute (Rolf Kipfer, Matthias Brennwald). Industry partners, Equinor and Shell, contribute significantly with their scientific knowledge (Philip Ringrose, Niko Kampman), financially and facilitate access to operating plants and samples. ICO2P is a part of the CO2 Storage research group at UiO.


[1] Brennwald et al. (2016), Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 13455-13463

[2] Sundal et al. [2019], GHGT-14

[3] Gilfillan et al. [2017] Int. Jour. of Greenhouse Gas Control, 63, 215-225.

Published Feb. 24, 2017 11:13 AM - Last modified Feb. 23, 2021 1:13 PM