The Carbon Corner - Issue #8

The Carbon Corner - Issue #8

It’s Friday, so it’s time to roll out our eighth issue of The Carbon Corner!

If the news out of the space is any indication, then CCS developers should buckle up for a bumpy ride.

This week’s newsletter highlights pushback against CCS developments we have seen over the last few days.

Air Products Louisiana CCS Project Hits a Snag

While some communities welcome the development of carbon capture and sequestration projects, others vehemently oppose the initiative.

In October 2021, Air Products announced plans to build a $4.5 billion manufacturing plant in Louisiana, producing 750 million cubic feet of “blue” hydrogen daily. The natural gas emissions would be split into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which would then be captured and injected under Lake Maurepas via pipelines and injection wells.

In response to this plan, the community of Livingston Parish passed Ordinance No. 22-49, establishing a temporary construction ban on Class V injection wells within the parish. Due to this new ordinance, Air Products has halted its project and filed a lawsuit. The ban also extends to EPA Class VI wells, which are required for permanent geologic storage.

The lawsuit filed by Air Products argues that the hold is “preempted and invalid” under federal and Louisiana law. The company seeks injunctive relief, including a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction.

This litigation introduces significant uncertainty into the permitting process for CCS projects in other areas. It is notable because many assumed that states and the federal government had primacy over permitting injection wells, not municipalities.

We will watch this litigation closely to monitor developments and report back in the coming weeks.

Cowboys & Indians: More Bad News for Summit

This week brought more negative developments for Summit Carbon Solutions in their quest to construct a multi-state carbon dioxide pipeline network.

Summit Carbon Solutions has proposed a pipeline spanning five Midwestern states to collect and sequester as much as 12 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year. Before construction can begin in August 2023, landowners and officials in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota must approve.

Despite the pipeline not going through their land, Summit has been forthcoming with its plans, alerting 62 Native American tribes. They have also stated that there must be 100% voluntary participation from all landowners. The company has highlighted a major benefit to persuade further area residents of the positive economic impact that could result from the project. The company claims 12,600 jobs would be created, and millions in tax revenue would be generated for the communities around the area.

Chairman of the Emmons County Commission, Erin Magrum, said, “There’ve always been a lot of promises with these projects, and we find later on they’re not as good as what’s been pitched. We’re starting to get tougher on these projects, asking a lot more questions. People want more from their government when the big projects come through.”

She and others in the affected communities are raising questions and taking a stand against the project. In August, Emmons County Commission voted to require Summit to gain voluntary easements and pay an industrial conditional use permit, which could total anywhere from $450 to $135 million. Others, like Cheyenne River Sioux tribe member Joye Buran and South Dakota farmer Ed Fischback, are joining together to fight in their state by raising awareness.

Clearly, public opposition in the Midwest appears poised to slow the progress of these major projects. The company may have assumed that a routine pipeline easement across rural land would have met benign interference; however, the project has turned into a major point of contention.

Coal-linked CCS Projects Continue to Percolate

We’ve seen renewed discussion of coal-linked CCS projects, despite the relatively poor historical performance of the efforts.

Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) has been awarded a contract to study carbon capture solutions for Consol Energy’s coal plant in Pennsylvania. The goal is to annually capture 781,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions from each of the plant’s four pressurized fluid bed boiler combustors. The SolveBright scrubbing system would directly capture the CO2 from the flue gas using a solvent process and re-use it.

This project would also include an advanced solvent carbon capture process technology engineered by Honeywell. The company hopes to have this carbon capture system in place and running by 2030.

Coal-linked CCS projects have been challenged in the past by high capital costs and a lack of revenue to support operations. Perhaps passing of the IRA bill, along with technological advanced in capture methods, will remedy these issues and provide a pathway for these projects to move forward.

Collaboration Between LanzaTech & Woodside

LanzaTech NZ and Woodside Energy have signed a Strategic Framework Agreement that partners the companies together to design, construct, own, maintain and operate pilot facilities relating to LanzaTech’s technologies, which seeks to convert gas emissions into new products. The companies will also seek out potential commercial scale-ups for the technology.

CEO of Woodside, Meg O'Neill says, “As the energy transition advances, we anticipate increasing demand for carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS)… This is a step forward in achieving our goal of building a new energy portfolio centered on profitably investing in the products and services to support our customers’ chosen decarbonization pathways.”

Location of Wyoming's Bison CCS Project Still Unknown

As many know, Wyoming is the 2nd state to receive primacy from the EPA over Class VI injection wells. Major projects have been announced, but details are still scarce.

CarbonCapture and Frontier Carbon Solutions teamed up last month to announce Project Bison, a new CCS proposal in Wyoming that will remove five million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. While the project location is unconfirmed, rumors of construction plans in Converse County circulated this week.

The news of the plant possibly being in Converse has raised caution from local environmentalists, who have expressed that the disposal would contaminate thousands of tons of groundwater daily in the Power River Basin.

As a response, County Commissioner Robert Short said he is aware of contaminated water concerns, but “if you’re injecting into a deep well, the likelihood of that is incredibly small.”

We tend to agree with the Commissioner; however, the objections raised follow a common line of argument from environmentalists who claim that underground drinking water may be threatened by carbon dioxide injection. This remains a focal point for permitting CCS projects nationwide.

That’s all for this week! We hope you enjoyed the rundown of CCS developments.

Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues - spread the word that we will be pubishing every week on updates impacting CCS developments!

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Schaper Energy is an energy consulting firm based in Houston, Texas.

Schaper Energy Consulting

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