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HECA Proposes Burying Carbon Dioxide Below Its Own Site

 Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The company behind a clean coal power and chemical plant proposed near Tupman told state officials this week it wants to bury the facility’s byproduct carbon dioxide beneath the site rather than sell it for enhancement of nearby oil production.
Hydrogen Energy California LLC’s proposal came as part of paperwork it filed Monday to get the $4 billion project back on track after it was temporarily put on regulatory hold last summer. The main impetus for the delay was Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s decision to walk away from a tentative deal to buy HECA’s CO2.
HECA’s opponents, including nearby farmers and air quality activists, now have until Dec. 15 to respond to the company’s proposal to restart the state’s review of the project after the regulatory time-out expires Jan. 6.
HECA, formed by Massachusetts-based SCS Energy LLC, told the California Energy Commission burying the gas eliminates the need for an “off-take” agreement and any requirement to analyze impacts to properties beyond its own, “all of which greatly simplify the environmental review and permitting of the project.”
The company had previously floated the idea of burying the carbon dioxide instead of putting it to use in enhanced oil recovery. But it had not said exactly where it might try to do that.
Quoting analyses by the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership and the California Geological Survey, HECA said the area’s underground rock formations appear to be ideal for storing large volumes of carbon dioxide indefinitely.
The company said WESTCARB, as the carbon sequestration partnership is known, studied a large area that includes the HECA site. It examined formations at various depths with interbedded sandstone and shale, some up to 5,000 feet thick, and concluded parts of the wider area can accommodate injection of 1 million metric tons of CO2 over four years.
While acknowledging more study remains to be done, including drilling a test well, HECA said at least four sandstone formations below the project site “meet the criteria for high storage potential.”
The company also addressed a condition set by the commission that it respond to an objection lodged by Kern County government.
County planners had criticized HECA’s stated plan to manufacture chemicals for use in transportation. They said the project site’s designation forbids the production of any chemicals not specifically used in agriculture.
The company said it will manufacture only chemicals for use in agriculture, which would include urea for fertilizer. (The Bakersfield Californian)
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