Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Peter Gill on Carbon Capture and Storage

Legal barriers to carbon capture and storage

Posted by Peter Gill on Mar 22, 2011 6:40 pm
We have all heard a lot of talk about carbon capture and storage CCS.  Those who worry about our carbon dioxide emissions to atmosphere see it as the answer to continued use of fossil fuels while we are waiting for renewable technologies to take over. However there are some snags that we need to consider. The first one is that of legality. As far as I am aware if we are talking off shore injection into strata then at the moment this is only permitted as part of an enhanced oil recovery project EOR.   Otherwise it requires international agreements which despite the longevity of the idea are not in place. Can anyone help and say whether they are even on the horizon? The second issue concerns insurance. Put bluntly in circumstances of a failure in the storage system and a large leakage of carbon dioxide the question is: Who pays in the event of deaths and other consequences? To these I now have to add another question for which I am grateful to Chris Booker, the journalist. That question is at the kind of injection rates required will the notion work or will it result in such fracturing that it will not? Now admittedly Chris is not a physicist or indeed a scientist but he has many connections with the scientific community.  I do not know his source. The last time I studied micromeretics is probably around 40 years ago and so I have to pass that question over probably to those involved in EOR. Can anyone help?
         (posted on the Institute of Physics forum climate posts)


  1. I have to thank another member of the Institute of Physics for the reference: http://www.imo.org/OurWork/Environment/SpecialProgrammesAndInitiatives/Pages/London-Convention-and-Protocol.aspx. I note that so far there are only around 30 signatories for the CCS modification of the London Protocol.

    Someone asked about why I had mentioned insurance. The potential answer to that question is that people and animals may die. The only example I know of this kind of carbon dioxide incident was a natural disaster described in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos You will see that a leak from a small lake (1.58 sq.km) Lake Nyos killed 1700 people and lots of other animals in 1986. If you clisk on the above reference (or copy to your browser) you may also notice that a wave created by the release wiped out surrounding vegetation. People looking to governments or companies involved in the storage project may be dissappointed by the outcome. An example of such dissapointment happened after the Bhopal disaster. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster