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Environmental Bulletin: Carbon Capture

Carbon Capture

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas, which traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and contributes to climate change. Significant CO2 emissions are generated from various industrial sources, including refineries, electrical generation plants, cement manufacturing plants, etc., and studies have shown that global CO2 emissions must be cut by 50 to 80 percent by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.[1] One of the methods to reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere is to capture the CO2 and store it underground, a process referred to as carbon sequestration.

As the effects of climate change, such as droughts, severe storms, and melting ice caps, become more evident, investors are putting pressure on publicly-traded companies to address climate change. For example, Exxon Mobil Corporation has recently leased approximately 500 thousand acres in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Texas, for a carbon sequestration project. In addition, another offshore drilling company, Talos Energy, is proposing to build a portfolio of four carbon sequestration projects along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

According to an August 15, 2022 Reuters article[2], tax credits provided in the recent U.S. Inflation Reduction Act will help to make carbon capture projects more financially viable, providing up to $85 per ton for sequestering carbon dioxide produced by industry.

The process for carbon sequestration involves separating CO2 from air emissions generated by industry and energy sources, compressing the CO2 until it becomes a liquid, transporting it, and then injecting it into geologic units. Deep saline aquifers and oil and gas reservoirs, typically deeper than 800 meters, may be used for carbon sequestration.1 These formations consist of porous rock covered by an impermeable cap rock. Gas is injected into these units and is trapped there. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated the wells used to inject CO2 into deep rock formations as Class VI wells. In December 2010, the EPA issued the Federal Requirements Under the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program for CO2 Geologic Sequestration Wells Final Rule, which established minimum technical criteria to protect underground sources of drinking water from the long-term subsurface storage of CO2.

Currently, the most common method of capturing CO2 from gas streams uses liquid solvents (such as amines). Other methods being studied include solid adsorbents, membranes, and cryogenic separation. Once the CO2 is separated, it is dried to remove water and compressed at high pressure into a dense fluid state, known as “dense phase” or “supercritical CO2”.[3] The preferred method for transport of the compressed CO2 is via pipeline. Once it reaches the storage site, it is injected by well into the formation.

There are a number of environmental risks associated with the different stages of carbon capture. High concentration exposures to CO2 can cause asphyxiation in humans, animals, and marine life and other contaminants can be released from carbon sequestration operations. The following presents some of the risks:

  • Where liquid solvents are used to separate carbon from gas streams, these chemicals could be spilled during storage, use, and loading/unloading, resulting in contamination, bodily injury or property damage.
  • Amines may be released as air emissions, and these can break down to more harmful substances in the atmosphere, which can have negative environmental effects, including health effects on humans, animals, plants, and the environment.
  • Wastewater containing amines, amine degradation products, corrosion products, metals and/ other chemicals is generated when using amines in the capture process.[4] A reclaimer is used to capture amine solvent for reuse, and the wastewater generated from the reclaimer is considered to be a hazardous waste. Handling, storage, and loading/unloading of this waste could result in spills or leaks that impact the environment. Additionally, disposal of wastes at a third-party facility can result in tort liability related to the non-owned disposal facility, and transportation of wastes presents an environmental liability risk for the generator.
  • At any point in separation, drying, or compression, there can be leaks of CO2, which can migrate into enclosed spaces and cause injury.
  • Gases like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrous oxide, water, sulfur dioxide, oxygen, and hydrogen may be present at small concentrations in CO2 and change the properties of the CO2 stream, with the most serious impact being corrosion of the piping system and potential failure.[5] Other pipeline defects could also result in leaks or releases of CO2.
  • Damage to pipelines onshore could occur due to inadvertent damage during digging or due to vandalism or terrorism. 
  • Damage to offshore pipelines could occur due to anchor dropping or dragging by ships and result in a release.
  • Injection wells can have blowouts. These can occur from equipment failures or over-pressurization of a well. Blowouts can release large volumes of CO2 and also drilling mud and debris can be ejected from the well, causing environmental damage.
  • Leakage of CO2 and hydrocarbon gases (such as methane), which may also be present in the geologic formation, could occur from a geologic unit through an unplugged well or a fault or fracture in the overlying formation. The leakage of CO2 and hydrocarbon gases into a groundwater aquifer can contaminate the water source. Additionally, leakage could migrate to the surface and enter enclosed building spaces, which could harm human health, or be released to the air, which would pose risks to the global climate.
  • Additionally,CO2 can displace saline water and well drilling or other carbon sequestration activities can create pathways for migration of saline water into a groundwater aquifer, degrading water quality in the aquifer.


According to Federal Regulation 40 CFR 146.85, the owner or operator of a Class VI injection well must demonstrate and maintain financial responsibility sufficient to pay for the following:

  • Corrective action
  • Injection well plugging
  • Post injection site care and site closure
  • Emergency and remedial response

One of the mechanisms that can be used to demonstrate financial responsibility, including liability and closure-related financial assurance, is insurance. Companies involved in any phase of the carbon sequestration operation need to financially prepare for short and long-term environmental risks. Pollution liability insurance may be available to manage financial risks and meet regulatory financial responsibility requirements. Companies should reach out to their insurance agent for more information on available policies. 

[1] 

CCP. “What Is CO2 Capture & Storage?” What Is CO2 Capture and Storage? , CO2 Capture Project, https://www.co2captureproject.org/what_is_co2_capture_storage.html. 


[2] 

Hampton, Liz. “Oil Industry Gears up to Tap U.S. Climate Bill for Carbon Capture Projects.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 15 Aug. 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/oil-industry-gears-up-tap-us-climate-bill-carbon-capture-projects-2022-08-15/. 


[3]

Bellona. “Transport of CO2.” Bellona.org, 9 July 2015, https://bellona.org/about-ccs/how-ccs/transport-of-co2. 


[4] 


Shao, Renjie, and Aage Stangeland . “Amines Used in CO2 Capture - Health and Environmental Impacts.” Bellona Report, Bellona Network, Sept. 2009, https://network.bellona.org/content/uploads/sites/3/fil_Bellona_report_September_2009_-_Amines_used_in_CO2_capture.pdf. 


[4] 

Brown, A., et al. “Impacts: Framework for Risk Assessment of CO2 Transport and Storage Infrastructure.” Energy Procedia, Elsevier, 18 Aug. 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876610217319884. 


 


Veriforce Partners With Environmental Risk Professionals

Download press release here



Certified Environmentally Responsible Contractor (CERC) added as a special offering for Veriforce® supply chain risk management solutions.


Environmental Risk Professionals and Veriforce have announced that the companies entered into a partnership to leverage environmental resources and offer Certified Environmentally Responsible Contractor (CERC) certification at a discounted price to Veriforce customers through the Veriforce HUB. 


CERC is a certification program that aims to promote environmentally responsible contractors by helping them stand out from lesser-qualified competition and win more bids. Darren Berg, president of Environmental Risk Professionals, points out how CERC benefits environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rating below:


Benefits of CERC

  • Environmental

Pollution Prevention Practices and training specific to environmental issues can prevent environmental incidents, improve safety, and reduce wastes generated.

 

  • Social

Having CERC certification shows the community that a company has considered the impact of their work on the environment and are leading the way toward environmental responsibility in the construction industry.

 

  • Governance 

Pollution liability insurance is complex, and pollutant definitions and coverages often vary between policies; therefore, pollution insurance is often not fully understood by insurance advisors. A CERC certificate demonstrates attention to detail to streamline the procurement process. It also shows how a company is protecting stakeholders through financial security for pollution conditions.


  

“Our team looks forward to helping Veriforce clients benefit from CERC certification. As part of the certification process, pollution liability insurance policies are verified for comprehensive pollution coverage. A CERC certificate can reduce the time project owners and general contractors spend verifying insurance requirements and demonstrate that a company has trained their employees on Pollution Prevention Practices,” Berg said. 


Environmental Risk Professionals can support Veriforce’s commitment to helping their network of 50,000 contractors implement safety training and qualification protocols as they pertain to environmental risk in ways that are not currently being addressed. 


“As part of our continued commitment to safety and added value in our solutions, partnering with Environmental Risk Professionals gives our clients an advantage in a time when ESG is a top priority.” Sandra Cashe, Chief Customer Officer of Veriforce, said.


Veriforce HUB members can request the CERC certification online at veriforcenetwork.com/cerc and receive the savings on this opportunity.

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About Environmental Risk Professionals

Environmental Risk Professionals is an environmental consulting firm with a team of experienced experts determined to help companies minimize pollution claims. Environmental Risk Professionals helps businesses understand their risk exposures and in turn, mitigate potential claims and negative effects on the environment. The CERC certification is administered by Environmental Risk Professionals. envriskpros.com.


About Veriforce

Veriforce® is a recognized leader in delivering comprehensive, integrated supply chain risk management solutions that help bring workers home safely and optimize business performance. Through a SaaS safety and compliance platform, data integrity and verification practices, and standardized safety training programs, Veriforce empowers leading organizations to drive safety and compliance into their supply chains and down to the worker-level. veriforce.com



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