Regulatory framework for CO2 Capture and Storage

Written by Semere Solomon and Aage Stangeland

As part of international efforts Bellona has participated at an international workshop on the “Regulation of Deep Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide” which is organized by the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC). IRGC is an independent foundation established in 2003 under the Swiss Civil Code. The foundation works to help improve the anticipation and governance of global, systemic risks.

In March 2007 IRGC arranged a workshop under the auspices of Regulation of Deep Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide that was held in Washington DC where Bellona was requested to contribute and participate. The primary objective was to explore how a range of different national regulations might coalesce into an agreed international regulatory framework which would support the development and, later, commercial scale-up of the deep geological sequestration of CO2. This objective is based upon the premise that the benefits of introducing carbon capture and sequestration on a commercial scale will only be realised with knowledge of the regulatory regime that will prevail and some certainty that the development and operation of the storage sites can realise economic rents.

The workshops primary deliverable was to produce papers which describe and assess the current regulatory picture in North America, Europe and Australia and develop from that analysis a number of recommendations for how an international regulatory framework could develop and what such a framework should include. To achieve this objectives Bellona together with the Statoil has completed a paper in February 2007. A total of 12 papers were presented at the workshop held on 15 and 16 March 2007 in Washington DC. The other teams who contributed their papers and were invited to participate in an expert workshop include:

  • The Australian Greenhouse Office (part of the Department of the Environment and Heritage)
  • BP International
  • Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • National Resources Defense Council (Washington DC, USA)
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Potsdam, Germany) and the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Magenta (Milan, Italy)
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Resources for the Future (Washington DC, USA),
  • Swedish Environmental Research Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) and the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) (Oslo, Norway)
  • Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage (University of Edinburgh) and the Judge Business School (University of Cambridge)
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA, USA)
  • The Swiss Reinsurance Company (Swiss Re) (Zurich, Switzerland)

The workshop was also attended by a number of other experts from both the corporate sector (utility companies; insurers) and from regulators. The meeting’s objectives were to identify common and divergent thoughts from the 12 papers and to develop a number of policy recommendations including paper to international organizations and institutions such as the UNFCCC and the EU. Most of the presented papers are made available to the public via IRGC’s website. The paper from Bellona can also be downloaded as a PDF file from the box at the top.

Key questions addressed by the workshop included:

  • Are existing regulations sufficient to allow the establishment of a sufficient number of demonstration sites whose performance could be monitored in order to inform regulation that would pertain when the technology enters its commercial phase?
  • Given the extremely high level of uncertainty, with almost no specific scientific knowledge available at the present time, how can one design a process for developing regulation which optimises risk management and allows the thorough assessment of safety and commercial performance over time?
  • What data should be produced from risk assessments?
  • What are the long-term liability and insurance issues and who is responsible for them?
  • How can regulatory regimes, most of which will be developed at the level of national governments, be sufficiently cohesive to assure common operational and safety standards and to ensure that the value of stored CO2 supports the extremely high investment costs required.

A follow-up international conference on 7 and 8 November 2007 will be organized by the IRGC at which the results of the March workshop will be presented and discussed. The conference will be co-organised with and hosted by the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue. The Bellona Foundation will continue to support and contribute in such initiatives now and in the future.