Bellona report calls for legislation on carbon capture and storage

The directive on geological storage of CO2 was adopted by the EU in December as part of the EU’s climate and energy package. The storage directive is European Economic Community-relevant, and will therefore in all likelihood become a part of Norwegian laws and regulations.

In its new report, “Burying CO2. The new EU Directive on geological storage of CO2 from a Norwegian Perspective,” Bellona reviews the directive, interprets what it means for Norway and what kind of moves Norwegian authorities must now take.

Unclear and confusing regime today
Norway’s StatoilHydro has sequestrated CO2 in the Utsira formation near Nordsjøen since 1996, but there is to date no specific regulatory framework addressing CO2 storage.

“In Norway, existing legislation has been used so far in the form of the Pollution Control Act and the Petroleum Act, but these say nothing about, for instance, who will have the long term responsibility for sequestration or which regulations will apply for the long term oversight of storage sites,” said Bellona advisor Laetitia Birkeland.

“So long as CO2 is conducted in a professional manner, there will be minimum risks of leaks, but what if in the worst case small amounts of CO2 should begin to seep out of a sequestration site? Who will be responsible for sealing the leak?” she said.

As a lawyer, Birkeland had a hand in working on the report. She says that a lack of concrete predictable laws and regulations are a hindrance to CO2 capture and storage. Uncertainty surrounding the selection of storage sites, liability issues, rights and obligations has been a problem, both within the business community and among authorities.
[picture1 left]Bellona’s advice
Bellona says first of all that Norway must implement the EU’s storage directive, and that work to carry this out must start now.

“Clear laws and guidelines for CO2 storage are positive both for Norway and for foreign actors who are interested in storing CO2 on the Norwegian shelf. Norway has an incredibly enormous sequestration potential, with a host of suitable under-sea geological formations,” Birkeland said.

Bellona has also advised that one or several neutral entities, preferably classification companies, should take part in the monitoring of storage sites.

According to the EU’s directive, the liable party must surrender CO2 emission allowances should CO2 leak from a sequestration point. Bellona says in addition, a system of penalty must be created wherein the responsible parties will be fined in case CO2 against presumptions should leak from a storage point.

A specific law suggested
In the new report, Bellona advises Norway to implement the storage directive in a new freestanding law instead of amending existing legislation.

“We also assert that Norwegian authorities should make use of the opportunity to create legislation for all aspects of the CO2 chain, accordingly capture, transport and storage,” said Birkeland.

“It will be a clear advantage if this is regulated in a clear and consistent fashion that gives predictability for all involved actors. It should be simple to hold to the law,” she said.

Download the report in the box to the right.