Are you planning a carbon capture project? Here are 7 development considerations before you start

By: Chris Reischman, Senior Director of Oil & Gas, and Gil Henry, Vice President of Oil & Gas

The race to meet the US goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is underway. One of the best solutions available for reducing the emissions in the air is the process of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). While CCUS is a leading solution to meeting greenhouse gas reduction ambitions, there are several things to consider before diving into a CCUS development project.

Our team has worked on many carbon dioxide (CO2) projects starting with pipeline transport for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the early 2000s and are now transitioning to CCUS projects. Based on our experience and expertise, here are the top seven things to keep in mind before moving forward with development.

Economic viability: First and foremost, it’s important to consider the feasibility and economic viability of the project. Any carbon capture project involves complex and costly systems that must be understood and accounted for at the beginning of development. Components of the project’s proposed CO2 lifecycle from capturing to safely transporting to securely storing it must be thoroughly evaluated during the FEED phase, to help ensure a successful project.

CO2 utilization options: CO2 can be captured and used in a number of different ways. One option is converting the CO2 into usable products through chemical and manufacturing processes (E.g. concrete or industrial products, such as plastics or alcohol). Another option is to inject underground to enhance the recovery of oil in a depleted reservoir.

Transportation options: After capturing the CO2, the next step is to determine the safest and most economical method of transport. There are several transportation options to consider, including pipelines, trains, trucks, barges, and ships. There are pros and cons to each of these options, although pipelines and ships are the most scalable options with the lowest cost per ton of CO2.

Storage options: If the CO2 is to be stored underground, sequestration options are available. Options include underground storage in depleted oil and gas reservoirs, saline aquifers, and deep coal seams.

Regulations and compliance expectations: Beyond the process of capturing the CO2 itself, there are additional factors that must be considered. Before any ground can be broken for a carbon capture project, there are regulations and compliance expectations that must be met. All state and federal requirements for the project must be considered at the very beginning stages of the project’s development. A thorough permit and compliance matrix will greatly assist in establishing and maintaining the overall project schedule.

Environmental impacts: Another essential consideration before the project breaks ground is to consider the possible environmental impacts of the carbon capture project. While CCUS is a strong solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it remains an imperfect process that could have adverse effects. It’s important to work with a team that has a thorough understanding of the possible environmental impacts and expertise in mitigating those risks.

Community engagement: Last, but certainly not least: community engagement is essential to the success of both the development and long-term success of any CCUS project. In the past, unsuccessful community engagement and local opposition have contributed to the cancellation or relocation of some CCUS projects.  Any development needs to consider the engagement of all the project stakeholders including the local communities, project developers, and regulatory bodies. This may require advanced communication on the project to ensure local community members and policymakers are on board and understand why and how the project may be beneficial to their community and the reliability of affordable energy for the foreseeable future.  A clear community and stakeholder engagement strategy is important to a project’s success.

CCUS projects come with a steep price tag and require thorough consideration of the project from start to finish. Still, CCUS is a leading solution as Americans march toward reaching reduced greenhouse gas emission goals. Fortunately for our clients, our expertise in CO2 storage as well as safely transporting CO2 sets our work apart from others. From day one, our clients have the benefit of experienced project managers in the field of CCUS as well as a commitment to both excellent work and thorough mitigation of any potential challenge. Our clients can have confidence knowing their project is in the best hands to reach a successful completion with clear, consistent communication along the way.

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