Posts Tagged ‘infrastructure bill’

The subject legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to accept the highest valid bid that was received for each tract offered in OCS Lease Sale 257. Exxon was the sole bidder on 94 tracts on the nearshore Texas shelf. The leases were to be acquired for carbon sequestration purposes.

The CCS bids should not be considered valid given that:

  1. Sale 257 was an oil and gas lease sale. The Notice of Sale said nothing about carbon sequestration and did not offer the opportunity to acquire leases for that purpose. Therefore, the public notice requirements for CCS leasing (30 CFR § 556.308) were not fulfilled.
  2. Because there was no draft or final Notice of Sale, interested parties and the public did not have the opportunity to consider and comment on CCS leasing, tract exclusions, bidding parameters, and other factors.
  3. 30 CFR § 556.308 requires publication of a lease form. No CCS lease form was posted or published for comment.
  4. CCS operations were not considered in the environmental assessments conducted prior to the sale.
  5. No evaluation criteria for CCS bids have been published.

Unexpectedly, the Infrastructure Bill, signed on 11/15/2021 (just 2 days before Sale 257) included a provision for OCS carbon sequestration. However, that legislation did not require CCS leasing or authorize DOI to sell CCS leases as part of an oil and gas lease sale; nor did it exempt DOI from complying with its leasing regulations. Instead, It gave the Secretary a year (until 11/15/2022) to promulgate necessary implementing regulations. If carbon sequestration in the Gulf of Mexico is deemed to be desirable, a separate CCS sale should be held when the regulatory framework has been established.

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  • What are the costs per ton of offshore carbon sequestration including emissions collection, offshore wells and platforms, the associated pipeline infrastructure, ongoing operational and maintenance costs, and decommissioning?
  • What is the timeframe given that the starting point is likely years away?
  • How long would CO2 sequestration continue.
  • Who pays? Polluters? Federal subsidies? Tax credits?
  • Who is liable for:
    • safety and environmental incidents associated with these projects?
    • CO2 that escapes from reservoirs, wells, and pipelines (now and centuries from now)?
    • decommissioning?
    • hurricane preparedness and damage?
  • For Gulf of Mexico sequestration, how much energy would be consumed per ton of CO2 injected? Power source? Emissions?
  • To what extent will these operations interfere with other offshore activities?
  • Relatively speaking, how important is US sequestration given:
  • What are the benefits of offshore sequestration relative to investments in other carbon reduction alternatives?
  • Will BOEM conduct a proper carbon sequestration lease sale with public notice (as required by BOEM regulations) such that all interested parties can bid?
    • What will be the lease terms?
    • Environmental assessment?
    • How will bids be evaluated?
  • What happens to the Exxon bids if the Judge’s Sale 257 decision is reversed?
  • What is the status of the DOI regulations mandated in the legislation with an 11/15/2022 deadline?
    • When will we see an Advanced Notice or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking?
    • Given that DOI has no jurisdiction over the State waters and onshore aspects of these projects, what is the status of parallel regulatory initiatives?
  • Finally and most importantly, how does drilling offshore sequestration wells instead of exploration and development wells increase oil and gas production?
highly simplified conceptual diagram

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Quite a bit per the GAO, and their report only deals with DOE management of demonstration projects. The Infrastructure Bill authorizes $2.5 billion for commercial projects (and much more for other CCS purposes).

DOE provided nearly $684 million to eight coal projects, resulting in one operational facility. Three projects were withdrawn—two prior to receiving funding—and one was built and entered operations, but halted operations in 2020 due to changing economic conditions. DOE terminated funding agreements with the other four projects prior to construction.

DOE provided approximately $438 million to three projects designed to capture and store carbon from industrial facilities, two of which were constructed and entered operations. The third project was withdrawn when the facility onto which the project was to be incorporated was canceled.


So DOE’s actual success ratio was 0.182 (2 for 11) – not very compelling.

With regard to proposals for offshore carbon sequestration, who will be liable for future cost overruns, operating losses, infrastructure failures including pipeline and well leaks, and decommissioning costs? Who ensures that there will never be any leakage from CO2 disposal reservoirs? Does all of this fall on the Federal government?

Corporations that want to engage in carbon sequestration for commercial or other purposes should fund the projects with their own revenues or fees charged to the companies whose emissions they are collecting. The Outer Continental Shelf is publicly owned and those wishing to dispose of substances should pay a usage fee, be responsible for all costs, and be liable for pollution and damages.

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What, if anything, will the Judge say about the leases that are intended to be carbon sequestration sites? How can BOEM sell OCS leases for purposes that were neither announced nor environmentally assessed? What do EarthJustice and the other plaintiffs think about the sequestration bids given that the environmental community is split on CCS?

Who is going to pay the enormous cost of sequestration on the Outer Continental Shelf – platforms, wells, pipelines, processing equipment, maintenance, monitoring, decommissioning, and more? The Federal government (i.e. taxpayers) features large in this grand scheme, and will no doubt be assuming most of the economic and performance risks. And all of these costs are for disposal purposes, not for offshore energy production of any kind.

Together with the bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted in November, which included more than $12 billion in funding for carbon capture and carbon removal technologies, the Build Back Better legislation would hand fossil fuel companies nearly every item on their carbon capture wishlist.

Inside Climate News

The reality of offshore CCS is not anywhere near as simple as portrayed in the slick graphic below:

houston ccs hub

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The text below, excerpted from the Infrastructure Bill (signed 2 days before Sale 257), requires the Federal government to provide funding for commercial CCS projects. $2.5 billion is appropriated. Given these incentives, how does BOEM possibly issue leases for CCS purposes when there was no public notice (as required by 30 CFR § 556.308) that CCS bids would be accepted at the oil and gas lease sale?

SEC. 40305. 
e) Large-scale Carbon Storage Commercialization Program.--
        ``(1) In general.--The Secretary shall establish a commercialization program under which the Secretary shall provide funding for the development of new or expanded commercial large-scale carbon sequestration projects and associated carbon dioxide transport infrastructure, including funding for the feasibility,site characterization, permitting, and construction stages of project development.
(h) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $2,500,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

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(b) Leases, Easements, or Rights-of-way for Energy and Related Purposes.--Section 8(p)(1) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1337(p)(1)) is amended--
        (1) in subparagraph (C), by striking ``or'' after the semicolon;
        (2) in subparagraph (D), by striking the period at the end and inserting ``; or''; and
        (3) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(E) provide for, support, or are directly related to the injection of a carbon dioxide stream to sub-seabed geologic formations for the purpose of long-term carbon sequestration.''.
    (c) Clarification.--A carbon dioxide stream injected for the purpose of carbon sequestration under subparagraph (E) of section 8(p)(1) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1337(p)(1))  shall not be considered to be material (as defined in section 3 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1402)) for purposes of that Act (33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.).
    (d) Regulations.--Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall promulgate regulations to carry out the amendments made by this section.

This will be an interesting challenge for the DOI folks (BSEE/BOEM?) charged with writing the regulation given the jurisdictional issues related to capturing onshore CO2 and transporting it to the OCS. Also, when was this provision added to the infrastructure bill and did its apparent obscurity and delayed enactment give certain parties some type of competitive advantage at the sale?

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