STEMM-CCS: Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage

Sub-seabed CO2 storage

Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) has been identified as an important mitigation strategy to reduce anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and thereby combat the rising levels of atmospheric CO2 responsible for global climate change and ocean acidification. CCS is seen as a key contribution to reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 and keeping global temperature increases below 2°C, as outlined in the European Commission’s ‘Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’. In addition, CCS is considered an important strategy to reduce the cost of mitigation measures around the continued use of fossil fuels (IPCC, 2014). For most European nations offshore storage of CO2 in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers is the option of choice.

STEMM-CCS objectives

STEMM-CCS will deliver new insights, guidelines for best practice, and tools for all phases of the CO2 storage cycle at offshore CCS sites. The key objectives of the project are:

  • To produce new tools and techniques for environmental monitoring as well as CO2 emission monitoring, quantification and assessment
  • To generate new knowledge of the reservoir overburden by direct investigation of natural geological and manmade features
  • To deliver the first CCS demonstration project level implementation of an ecological baseline, incorporating geochemical and biological variability
  • To promote knowledge transfer to industrial and regulatory stakeholders and local and international communities


Workpackage leader: Kevin Saw

A central part of STEMM-CCS is a controlled release of CO2 into sub-seabed sediments. WP1 will coordinate and develop the technical logistics to deliver this demonstration. This includes the development of the major equipment necessary to produce the controlled release of CO2 and coordination of the experimental and measurement programme in , and .


  • Coordinate the production, delivery and deployment of equipment to the demonstration site
  • Coordinate the management of the test site
  • Design, develop, manufacture and deploy a seabed drill and the CO2 delivery system to enable release of CO2 at < 5 m beneath the sediment water interface
  • Deliver a current recording mooring and integrate sensors and functionality into the seabed lander

Workpackage leader: Steve Widdicombe

WP2 will deliver best practice methodologies and tools for baseline environmental monitoring relevant to offshore CCS. Spatial and temporal variability at all relevant scales with respect to physical, chemical and biological parameters will be determined.


  • Design and implement an effective environmental baseline survey
  • Identify appropriate biological and chemical indices of impact, suitable for industrial-scale application above CCS sites
  • Use modelling approaches to extend spatially and temporally limited field observation data to support a comprehensive environmental baseline

Workpackage leader: Christian Berndt

WP3 will use new geophysical techniques, sediment imaging techniques and direct sampling to determine the efficiency of fluid pathways in the shallow sub-surface. This will focus on anomalies in seismic data ('chimney structures'), common in many sedimentary basins which are generally believed to be the result of hydro-fracturing and fluid migration.


  • Determine the efficiency of leakage pathways for CO2 transfer
  • Determine the CO2 permeability of chimney structures
  • Determine how long chimney structures remain open for CO2 transfer
  • Determine the physical properties of chimney structures

Workpackage leader: Rachael James

WP4 will focus on simultaneous calibration of various techniques for detecting and quantifying CO2 released in the sub-seafloor experiment in the North Sea (). This work is crucial for ensuring compliance with the EC CCS Directive, and for promoting confidence in CO2 storage as a viable technology for reducing anthropogenic input of CO2 to the atmosphere.


  • Detect, locate and quantify CO2 leakage from the controlled sub-seabed CO2 release experiment ()
  • Assess the utility of artificial and natural tracers of CO2 in the marine environment
  • Develop effective methodologies for quantification of CO2 fluxes across the seabed and dispersion in the water column
  • Develop coupled and nested model systems to assess CO2 and tracer dispersion in sediments and the water column for a range of leakage scenarios

Workpackage leader: Matthew Mowlem

WP5 will address capability gaps in the instrumentation, sensors, observational systems and techniques required to reduce the cost and uncertainty in measurement of the environment at proposed and operational CCS sites. Measurements enable site characterisation and selection, baseline survey, leak detection, leak quantification, environmental impact assessment and mitigation/remediation decisions and efficacy assessment.


  • Develop new technologies and optimise methods to locate, detect and quantify CO2 leakage
  • Develop new technologies and techniques for measurement of biological and chemical parameters, including natural variability
  • Reduce the cost of data collection by developing new technologies and techniques
  • Assimilate measurement and model information to produce a decision support tool to guide mitigation and remediation action
  • Develop automated low-cost seabed imaging and mapping technologies and techniques for baseline and impact assessments

Workpackage leader: Jerry Blackford

STEMM-CCS has the potential to export knowledge and products to many international stakeholders and WP6 will collaborate with, and benefit from, the many research and development initiatives and associated observations underway outside the EU.


  • Capitalise on collaborative interactions with international research and development to maximise the impact of STEMM-CCS
  • Maximise the exposure and dissemination of project outputs to an international audience of CCS stakeholders including industry, regulators, governments and researchers

Workpackage leader: Vikki Gunn

WP7 will share the knowledge gained and the methods proposed in , , and with a range of appropriate stakeholders and other interest groups through a variety of approaches. WP7 will provide informed guidance and materials to aid the process of sharing knowledge across a range of stakeholder groups, including the local coastal and fishing communities, scientists, industrial operators, other marine industries, policymakers, regulators, NGOs and other interest groups.


  • Ensuring that accurate information about CO2 storage is available by providing clear and accessible communications designed for specific audiences
  • Facilitating interaction between project scientists and stakeholders
  • Establish a comprehensive training programme for the community of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers involved in the project, and industry and regulatory stakeholders

Workpackage leader: Douglas Connelly

WP8 is responsible for the coordination and management of the project and is coordinated by NOC-NERC. For further inquiries about the project, please contact STEMM-email address.