By Tip Meckel
Many nations recognize that immense potential for geologic storage of carbon dioxide exists in subsea sites on the continental shelf. Indeed, every continent in the world is bordered by passive marine margins suitable for storage. The geology does not stop at the shoreline, and the deep subsurface of those offshore margins is highly suitable for storage. An added attraction of offshore storage is co-location of carbon sources and sinks, as most large industrial emissions sources occur in coastal regions. Compared to onshore sites, which are owned by private entities, offshore territories are controlled by government gencies, thus simplifying regulation and permitting. In addition, potential risks to shallow sources of drinking water and human health and safety are reduced in offshore settings. Such benefits have the potential to resonate with many nations, in particular, industrialized countries that must participate in climate change mitigation for any meaningful impact to occur.
But, working in an offshore environment presents challenges. Costs of siting, development, and monitoring are not insignificant, and regulation of risk and liability may not be well established in all nations.