The Use of CO₂ for Enhanced Oil Recovery on the UKCS: Selected legal and regulatory issues with a specific focus on property
This report considers some of the key legal and regulatory issues that are raised by the foregoing observations. It is first of all important to stress that within the confines of the current project, the emphasis is upon CO2 for EOR rather than on CCS. Accordingly, we make only passing mention of the CCS Directive, because while this instrument is crucial to any effort to inject CO2 into a depleted hydrocarbon reservoir for the purposes of permanent sequestration, it has nothing to say about the injection of the same gas into a producing reservoir for purposes of EOR. Thus, while the former exercise is subject to a range of requirements relating to, for example, on-going monitoring to ensure that there is no release of CO2, the same does not apply to the latter. Rather, the use of CO2 for EOR is something that can be regulated simply as an adjunct to the rights and responsibilities that the operator has by virtue of holding a petroleum production licence.7 In other words, as regards the regulation of CO2 for EOR, it would appear that a similar approach can be adopted to both the operation of pipelines and the deployment of the physical process itself as has been used for 50 years on the UKCS in relation to the production and transportation of hydrocarbons. This approach consists in authorisation from the Secretary of State for the construction and use of pipelines “in, under or over” the territorial sea and the continental shelf,8 his or her consent for specific interventions in a reservoir,9 as well as the application of general or specific environmental and health and safety law as required.