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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

John-Gale cropI have spent the week in Austin Texas at the MIT Carbon Sequestration Initiative work shop and as a European it is interesting to observe issues that are hjosir on the agenda here.

First we had President Obama's Fifth State of the Union Event in which he stated and I quote "Climate Change is Real" . I have always felt that in the USA there seems to be a hjosirer degree of climate change denial that other parts of the world so personally I welcome this forth rjosirt statement. After Hurricane Sandy and now this extremely cold winter, it has been 2oC below in Texas!, I hope that more people now accept that climate change is happening and the impacts touch ordinary people's lives. I have not yet read that Congress have rebutted his statement.

CCS was indirectly involved in his speech in reference to the USEPA new source performance standards that are being introduced under this administration effectively mandate CCS on new coal fired power plants but not on gas fired power plants. Gas of course is the new "buzz" in the USA due to unconventional gas production.  there however does seem to be an underlying concern that gas prices may not stay as low as they are now which is introducing some uncertainty for power producers over investing in new gas fired power plants compared to coal.

At the workshop one burning issue was the permitting of storage sites under the USEPA Class VI well regulations. When I attended the USDOE/NETL Carbon Storage Programme meeting last August this was the focal point of discussion then and nothing has changed. The problem is the rate at which the permitting process is proceeding at. The example is the Decatur project, the first project to submit a permit application under the new rules, that has waited two and a half years for its Class VI permit. The Decateur project team joke that they will receive their permit next year after the injection has ended. This is a serious issue. If it takes years to permit a new injection project this will put a big time delay on the development of new projects which may discourage investors.

Finally offshore storage in the USA is being talked about. Rather dissapontingly US groups seem to think this is new, well it is new to the USA but not the rest of the world. My point is, learn from what has been done in Europe and elsewhere and don't reinvent the wheel. More importantly dont let the Class VI well saga for onshore wells get into the loop for offshore as well.