The team uses a Delphi process to rate the
likelihood and severity of risks, and then develops
response protocols to mitigate or manage them.
For example, the team installed steel posts around
the well head to avoid trucks crashing into it.
THAT’S GOING WHERE?
Emissions regulations—or even the threat of
them—are a driving force behind all the carbon
In Australia, the government’s Carbon
Pollution Reduction Scheme calls for the
country to cut greenhouse gas emissions to
25 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.
Emission-cutting plans will include a cap-and-trade approach that will provide emission permits to companies with varying permit prices
based on market conditions.
U.S. energy giant Chevron is planning a project
to offset the millions of tons of CO2 produced at
its AU$43 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas
mining megaproject on Barrow Island in western
Australia. With the plant running at capacity, the
company is slated to inject 120 million tons of
CO2 over the life of the project into a rockbed 2. 5
kilometers ( 1. 6 miles) below the surface. Chevron
plans to invest AU$2 billion in the project—the
world’s largest CO2 injection initiative—which is
expected to last at least 40 years.
The project is “a major environmental step
forward in that [the team is] not simply going to
produce and vent, they are going to capture the
CO2 and store it,” Ronald Ripple, a Curtin
Business School professor of energy economics,
told WA Today.
The cost of the sequestration is “significant,”
he says, “but when you think about the magnitude
of this project it doesn’t seem to be disproportionately large.”
The Chevron project won environmental
approvals from the local government on
14 September. In most cases, though, governments and research agencies are still evaluating
the efficacy of smaller sequestration projects
and only beginning to launch major initiatives,
says John Litynski, division director for the
sequestration division of the National Energy
CO2 is separated
from natural gas.
is fed to
CO2 is compressed
and injected 2. 5
kilometers ( 1. 6
of Chevron Australia
Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh,
“Our budget is $150 million a year just for
sequestration projects and most carbon-sequestration
projects in the United States are tied to us,” says
Mr. Litynski. “We started developing carbon-capture technology 10 years ago, but the energy
industry’s interest has substantially increased over
the past year.”
His group currently oversees the results of 30
carbon-sequestration field projects across the
United States, in which CO2 is injected into coal
seams, oil reservoirs and saline formations.
Still, given how relatively new the technology
is, communities are cautious—and project managers
may have to work at building support.
“The biggest issues on the projects are gaining
access to sites and settling lease agreements with
land owners,” Mr. Litynski says. “That’s why
public outreach is so important.”
To address concerns and ease the way for
project access, Mr. Finley’s team includes someone
whose primary role is to communicate with the
community about the project.
In the end, though, the long-term success of
the projects may be determined not by community
response but by the government.
“The growth of the industry depends on
policy. If there are no regulations saying you
have to capture CO2, it will never be wide-scale,”
says Mr. Litynski. “But if the regulations come
through, carbon sequestration will become a
major industry, and we’ll need tens of thousands
of developers, engineers and managers to run