The Future of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Geologic Sequestration (CCS) Discussed at International Conference

Posted on January 24, 2012 by David Flannery

I had the privilege to be a speaker at a CCS conference held at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC on January 19, 2012. The conference was hosted by the Global CCS Institute for the purpose of discussing the strategic directions expected to be undertaken in the development and deployment of the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide. Central to this issue is the national and international concern over climate change at a time when our nation’s energy supply is so closely tied to the use of fossil fuels.

In his keynote speech at the conference Charles McConnell of USDOE’s Office of Fossil Fuels offered the view that coal must be economically advantaged and environmentally sustainable. Much of the conference was dedicated to a review of the many CCS projects being undertaken around the world in an effort to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology.

A key component of the development of CCS is, of course, the cost of the technology and the opportunities that exist to offset those costs. One such opportunity is the use of capture carbon dioxide to enhance the production of oil (EOR). While many of the speakers at the conference recognized the early value of CCS/EOR projects, both Brad Page of the Global CCS Institute and Steve Winberg of Consol Energy pointed out that EOR capacity is only 20% of the ultimate capacity that will be needed to meet the President’s carbon dioxide reduction target. Other alternatives for the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide include depleted oil and gas reserves and greenfield deep saline formations.

My remarks at the conference were directed at the significant leadership being undertaken by the various states to address the legal and regulatory uncertainties associated with CCS activities. West Virginia is among those states where a legislatively mandated working group has recommended not only a comprehensive set of regulatory requirements, but also a liability transfer mechanism during the post operational phase of a project tied to the establishment of an operator generated trust fund. That working group has also recommended a comprehensive set of policies related to property issues including a determination that the use of pore space may be considered a public use to be authorized by permit.  Click here for the list of conference speakers.

EPA PROPOSES CO2 STORAGE RULES

Posted on July 22, 2008 by Rick Glick

On July 15, EPA announced new rules for underground injection of carbon dioxide (CO2). The rules are intended to provide a measure of regulatory certainty for carbon capture and storage (CCS) implementation.  CO2  STORAGE RULES. CCS is the technology for capturing CO2 as it is released from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries or other large scale sources of CO2 emissions, and then transporting the gas for injection into a suitable underground geologic formation. EPA estimates that CCS could account for as much as 30% of CO2 emissions by 2050, which has obvious implications for climate change.

NEW CLASS OF UIC WELLS

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA administers the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. The program is designed to protect drinking water aquifers from industrial injection of fluids into deep geologic formations for purposes such as enhanced oil or gas recovery. CO2  storage presents special challenges as it is buoyant, can be corrosive and would be spread over a large area and held indefinitely. Therefore, EPA proposes a new Class VI well specific to storage. 

NO PRESCRIPTIVE STANDARDS

EPA proposes performance-based standards, as opposed to prescriptive requirements. In general, an injection and operations plan must be included with the application that demonstrates drinking water would be protected. Permit holder would have to monitor and periodically report back to EPA to ensure that model predictions as to the size of the CO2  plume and injection pressures prove true. Permittees would be required to demonstrate financial responsibility for post-injection site care for 50 years; that time period could be shorter or longer, depending on the residual risk to drinking water aquifers based on monitoring data.

PLENTY OF ROOM FOR STATE REGULATION

Note that the rules do not address the capture and transportation of CO2. Further, the new rules do not address property rights, liability or other siting regulatory concerns, so we can expect the states to assert jurisdiction. 

For more information, see full article here.