The principal drivers of climate change are likely to be CO2 emissions caused by use of fossil fuels. A variety of methodologies have been proposed to cut these emissions. A preferred method is CO2 Capture and Storage in geological formations (CCS). Despite exceptional CCS potential in the Province of Alberta, there are legal and regulatory issues that must be resolved to allow its implementation. Without these changes there will not be enough certainty to enable the industry to make appropriate decisions that encourage investment.
Existing regulations of Alberta in oil and gas sector designed to regulate acid gas disposal provide a basis for regulating geological storage of CO2. However, these regulations cannot be directly used to handle huge CO2 storage volumes compared to the acid gas disposal amounts. Disposal of CO2-rich acid gas streams is mainly regulated by the directives of Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (AERCB).
Guidelines are provided in this paper to show how these regulations can be the basis for geological storage projects. The guidelines are given for different CO2 storage project stages of: planning and design, operation, closure, and post-closure. The guidelines presented in this work are applicable to any regulatory regime for assessment and management of the risks associated with CO2 storage activities.
At the planning and design stage of the project, certain criteria for site selection are proposed, including comprehensive reservoir characterization and modeling for risk assessment and performance prediction of storage project. The regulatory regime can then use performance-based and procedural regulations to ensure sufficient data is acquired and a model with a specified confidence limit is available.
Risk of leakage is highest during the operation stage because the formation pressure is the highest at this stage. Considerations to be made by the regulatory regime to ensure containment of the CO2 during this stage are proposed. Guidelines are given on what should be considered by the regulatory regime to ensure sufficient level of monitoring.
Implementing these changes encourages, but does not guarantee the regulatory system to be compatible with future technologies and adapt to changes in risk and remediation.