University of Texas at Austin

BOEM Sub-seabed GS Best Management Practices

Analysis of Applicability of Existing BOEM/BSEE Regulations to Offshore Sub-Seabed Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

Project Overview

The purpose of this project is to identify existing Department of Interior (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) regulations that could apply to injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for:

  1. enhanced oil recovery (EOR) with incidental CO2 storage and
  2. long-term storage of CO2 without the added financial benefit of EOR, which is also known as geologic storage (GS).

The statutory authority for regulating CO2 on the OCS originates from the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The Act provides authority for the Secretary of the Interior, through BSEE and BOEM, to regulate secondary and tertiary EOR on the OCS; these existing regulations pertain to resource recovery only. Relevant regulations will need to be adapted if future CO2 emissions credits will be claimed for incidental sequestration of CO2 being injected for EOR.

Authority to regulate CO2 GS on the OCS also exists under certain circumstances that are described in later sections. The jurisdictional split of BSEE/BOEM created an overlapping bifurcated regulatory system, such that existing and future regulatory regimes for CO2 injection and storage on the OCS straddle both Bureaus.

Two strategies for regulation of sub-seabed CO2 injection operations on the OCS are:

  1. Application of existing BSEE/BOEM regulations for activities related to exploration and production of oil, gas, and sulphur, and secondary/tertiary recovery operations to EOR with incidental sequestration of CO2. Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations (30 CFR) Parts 250/550, 251/551, 252/552, and 256/556 pertain to activities for primary production of oil and gas. Parts 250/550 are also applicable to regulation of EOR; however, EOR using CO2 has not yet been undertaken on the OCS – or in the offshore anywhere in the world. It will be necessary to modify existing regulations or develop additional Notices to Lessees (NTLs) to address CO2 EOR operations with incidental sequestration, especially for purposes of monitoring.
  2. Develop BSEE/BOEM regulations that could apply to CO2 GS because existing ones are limited. If current regulations are utilized, modifications will be needed to address the differences between oil and gas or renewable energy-related activities, and injection of CO2 for EOR versus injection strictly for sub-seabed GS. For example, if 30 CFR Part 585 (Renewable Energy and Alternative Uses of Existing Facilities on the OCS) are used for CO2 GS, modifications would need to include site characterization and selection, drilling, construction, injection, and decommissioning/site closure regulations specific to CO2 GS operations.

The final report, Subseabed Geologic Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Best Management Practices, which will be completed at the termination of the project at the end of 2015, will include more specific details on how existing BSEE/BOEM regulations will apply to offshore CO2 injection operations, and identify gaps that will need to be addressed by new regulations. The Best Management Practices will also identify technical aspects, both operational and environmental, that will need to be addressed before injection of CO2 below the OCS may proceed.

E-Sources

The links below can be followed to find direct sources of information discussed in this project.

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act OCSLA [PDF]

Regulations

Notices to Lessee (NTLs)
BOEM NTLs
BSEE NTLs

Project Collaborators:
Rebecca Smyth, GCCC
Paul G. Thomas III, The University of Houston Law Center

FAQs

co2 facts
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