A new report from the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project owners may have just riled up more opposition to the project. The project owners are now talking about injecting CO2 into underground formations at the project site itself and no longer plan to proceed with injection as part of an oilfield enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project.
HECA recently was under fire for not having secured Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) CO2 sequestration contracts for the emissions that would occur from its future operations. Project opponents tried to get the project canceled because of that, but, the California Energy Commission granted a six month reprieve, during which time HECA was required to make monthly progress reports. Information in those reports was to include, among other things, how the CCS aspect of the project would be addressed.
The CEC released HECA’s first monthly report today and it contained some rather surprising information. HECA said it has decided to “… forgo any discussions with oil producers at this time and permit the project as a CCS project without EOR associated with its carbon sequestration.”
The report went on to describe how HECA has been working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and studying its work with the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB). The later has been studying the suitability of the Southern San Joaquin Basin, where HECA would be located, for its CO2 storage potential. Initial indications are that HECA’s location, along with other nearby locations, may have the necessary geology for longtime CO2 storage.
The decision to not use an EOR project as part of the CCS solution should address those critics who claimed that the original proposal was not really a CO2 sequestration project to begin with. They argued that most of the CO2 stored underground would be offset by new emissions of CO2 from increased crude oil development and its subsequent fuel products.
However, because the HECA plant site would be located on the western outskirts of Bakersfield, opponents of the project who have already objected to the use of coal, fresh water, and other impacts described when the project was first proposed, may not be happy with this latest development. Fears of accidental releases of highly concentrated CO2 from a CCS storage site at the HECA location may add another dimension to their opposition.