Plans to capture and sequester carbon emissions feature in several new and brownfield oil and gas projects in Indonesia today, but relevant legislation and a regulatory framework will be required even if the technologies prove commercially viable.

Indonesia’s government is drafting regulations related to carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) for the oil and gas industry, with the aim of not only supporting the development of such technologies but also addressing safety and the economic aspects.

However, no such legislation is yet in place and anyone who follows Indonesia’s upstream sector will be only too aware that the wheels of government decision-making often turn very slowly.

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"CCS and CCUS regulations have previously been prepared by the National Center of Excellence and supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),” Tutuka Ariadji, director general of oil and gas at the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, recently said.

He noted that CCS and CCUS technology can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while boosting production through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or enhanced gas recovery schemes.

UK supermajor BP has plans for a CCUS project as part of the next phase of its Tangguh liquefied natural gas project in West Papua, while national oil company Pertamina is eyeing CCUS at its Gundih and Sukowati fields onshore Java.

Other CCUS projects and studies in Indonesia have been touted for the Sukowati, onshore East Java, and Limau Niru in South Sumatra.

Pertamina recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan Petroleum Exploration Company (Japex) and the Jakarta-based Lemigas to consider the possibility of a demonstration test that would transport CO2 by pipeline from a nearby gas field to the Sukowati field for injection and storage in its oil reservoir.

Japex said the study would consider the possibility of a demonstration test for transporting CO2 from a nearby field a using supercritical CO2 pipeline, which the company said would mean transportation efficiency is improved compared to a conventional CO2 pipeline.

"We will work together to clarify the CO2 storage capacity and integrity, as well as to research regulations concerning CCUS by JCM (joint crediting mechanism)," said Japex.

Lemigas, a research centre for oil and gas technology development under the auspices of Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, has elected to direct its CCS efforts to the proposed Sukowati pilot project.

Greater potential

The focus on Sukowati in East Java province is due to its greater potential for a full-scale commercial application.

Production from Sukowati has been in decline from around the mid-2010s, with output by late 2019 averaging around 9000 barrels per day of oil compared to an historic peak of more than 46,000 bpd eight years before.

The proposed pilot project consists of four production wells and a CO2 injection well.

If the pilot were to prove successful, it could lead to a commercial-scale project using a miscible process involving the use of all 35 existing production wells along with new CO2 and water injection wells.

The ADB had earlier envisaged that the CO2 for the pilot project would be sourced from the Sukowati field itself, where produced gas contains about 40% CO2.

Meanwhile, Pertamina, with support from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, is collaborating with Japanese trio JGC, J-Power and Janus and the Bandung Institute of Technology on a joint study for CCUS and enhanced gas recovery at Gundih.

This touted CCUS-EGR project, now the subject of a feasibility study, was first proposed as a CCS project almost a decade ago.

The Gundih project has the potential to cut CO2 emissions by 300,000 tonnes per annum while also improving gas production at the onshore asset.

The stored CO2 would count as carbon credits to be shared by the governments of Indonesia and Japan.

The feasibility study for Gundih is scheduled for completion next February, while Pertamina envisages the front-end engineering and design and engineering, procurement and construction phases running from 2022 to 2024.

The Gundih CCUS-EGR project could start commercial operations in 2026.

Dannif Danusaputro, chief executive of Pertamina’s power and new and renewable energy division, says this collaboration would greatly support Indonesia's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 29% in 2030.

"We see that these initiatives are in line with the commitment and implementation of (environmental, social and governance) in Pertamina's business. It is expected that all of these collaborations will have good and impactful results. By collaborating, we hope that the transition to clean energy or new renewable energy will be faster, especially in Indonesia," Dannif says.

Spanish operator Repsol is evaluating a geological carbon storage – or GCS - project for its grassroots Sakakemang project onshore South Sumatra.

The touted scheme will see Repsol capture an estimated 2 million tonnes per annum of CO2, to total 30 million tonnes over the life of the project from scheduled start-up in 2026 to 2040.

The GCS plan envisages carbon dioxide from Sakakemang being injected into the Gelam and Dayung fields on ConocoPhillips' adjacent Corridor block.

BP is also eyeing CCUS as a key component of the next development phase at its Tangguh LNG project.

The proposal, which was outlined in the plan of development now under evaluation by the Indonesian authorities, would cover all the Tangguh gas fields that include Ubadari, Vorwata, Wiriagar Deep and Roabiba.

This CCUS scheme too is intended to reduce emissions while boosting output.

Carbon recycling

The Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources is currently focusing on CCUS to increase oil and gas production through CO2-EOR/EGR.

However, it also supports the development of carbon recycling because it can provide economic value from CO2 utilisation.

The ministry, represented by Balitbang ESDM, is planning to co-operate with Japan on carbon recycling, while Pertamina reportedly also has several research programmes related to carbon recycling.

Meanwhile, CCUS studies connected to downstream industries are about to start, including one such initiative on CO2 separation at an ammonia plant in Central Sulawesi.