Carbon Capture and Storage and international maritime agreements

Current state, progress and challenges

Term Paper 2011 20 Pages

Law - Public Law / Miscellaneous


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations


Table of Treaties

A. Introduction

B. Technical Basics of CCS
I. Capture
II. Transportation
III. Storage

C. International maritime waste agreements
I. The 1982 UNCLOS
II. The 1972 London Convention
III. The 1996 London Protocol
IV. The 1992 OSPAR Convention

D. Conclusion

List of Abbreviations

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Friedrich, Jürgen: Carbon Capture and Storage: A new challenge for international environmental law. In: Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, Volume 67, 2007, p. 211 - 227.

Global CCS Institute: The global status of CCS. Canberra 2011.

Havercroft, Ian; Purdy, Ray: Carbon Capture and Storage - A Legal Perspective. Expert Group Meeting: Carbon Capture and Storage and Sustainable Development, Division for Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, September 2007.

International Energy Agency: Carbon Capture and Storage and the London Protocol. Paris 2011.

International Energy Agency: Carbon Capture and Storage - Legal and Regulatory Review - 2nd Edition. Paris 2011.

International Energy Agency: Carbon Capture and Storage - Model Regulatory Framework. Paris 2010.

Johnsen, Filip: Perspectives on CO2 capture and storage. In: Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology, Volume 1 (2) 2011, p. 119 - 133.

Kahle, Christian; Kohls, Malte: Klimafreundliche Kohlekraft dank CCS? In: Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht 3/2009, p. 122 - 129.

Kerr, Tom; Havercroft, Ian; Dixon, Tim: Legal and regulatory developments associated with carbon dioxide Capture and Storage: A global update. In: Energy Procedia 1 2009, p. 4395 - 4402.

Mace, M.J.; Hendriks, Chris; Coenraads, Rogier: Regulatory challenges to the implementation of carbon capture and geological storage within the European Union and international law. In: International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 1/2007, p. 253 - 260.

Missling, Sven: Die Gestaltung des deutschen Ordnungsrahmens für die geologische Speicherung von CO2. In: Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht 6/2008, p. 286 - 292.

Schlacke, Sabine: Klimaschutz durch CO2- Speicherung im Meeresboden - völkerrechtliche Anforderungen und europarechtliche Herausforderungen. In: Zeitschrift für Europäisches Umwelt- und Planungsrecht 2/2007, p. 87 - 95.

Stoll, Peter Tobias; Lehmann, Friederike: Die Speicherung von CO2 im Meeresuntergrund - die völkerrechtliche Sicht. In: Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht 6/2008, p. 281 - 285.

Wickel, Martin: Die Abscheidung und Speicherung von Kohlendioxid - Eine neue Technik als Herausforderung für das Umweltrecht. In: Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht 3/2011, p. 57 - 77.

Wißmann, Hinnerk: Kohlendioxidspeicherung als „Klimaretter für die Kohle“?

Anmerkungen zur Innovationsverantwortung im Energiesektor. In: Gundel/Lange(Eds.): Klimaschutz nach Kopenhagen - Internationale Instrumente und nationale Umsetzung, p. 57 - 77. Tübingen 2011.

Wolf, Rainer: CCS, Anlagengenehmigungsrecht und Emissionshandel. In: Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht 12/2009, p. 571- 579.

Table of Treaties

1996 Protocol to the “Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 29 December 1972” of 7 November 1996

Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic and the North Sea of 22 September 1992

International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 29 December 1972

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982

A. Introduction

Climate change is undisputable one of the most important and most discussed topics in the 21st century so far. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change observed in his “Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change” in 2007 that within the period of 1906 to 2005 the climate changed significantly. Global warming, increasing precipitation and a sea-level rise are just some indicators supporting the findings. One of the major causes leading to climate change is the increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the air mainly due to the use of fossil fuels.1

The International Energy Agency outlined that with the lack of new energy sources or at least changed energy policies, the energy-related CO2 emissions in 2050 will be twice the level of 2007. Therefore, politicians and scientists all over the world are making a huge effort to develop and provide measures for reducing the emissions of CO2 and other global warming gases. Besides the more famous accomplishments such as the subsidization of renewable energy sources or emission trading a new technology emerged in the past decade, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).2

It can be described, in general, as a technique to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by sequestrating it from fossil fuels and storing it into geological formations in the ground or in the sub-seabed. In chapter “B” this paper will give an overview about the technological concept of CCS and the various approaches that are currently examined by scientists.

CCS is seen as one of the most feasible climate change mitigation options due to its capability to reduce the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere without abandoning the use of fossil fuels. To do justice to this rating, it is necessary to support the deployment of CCS by developing and constructing legal frameworks and regulations that are flexible enough to allow for new technological advancements. The European Union is taking a big step forward with its Directive 2009/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council by creating a regulatory framework for the geological storage of CO2.

At the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Cancun it was concluded that CCS should be considered as a possible clean development mechanism project activity. This can be seen as one of the most significant steps towards an international acknowledgement of CCS as climate change mitigation option in the last decade.3 A number of literature has dealt with CCS in relation to international climate change legislation and an additional examination of this topic would exceed the extent of this paper.

Nevertheless, it should be clear, that the climate change is a global problem and hence a shift in the international community is needed to really allow for measures stopping it. Consequently, it is indispensable to determine which other international regimes could possible include obstacles to the further deployment of CCS.

Due to the fact that the storage in sub-seabed has various, not only safety-related, advantages compared to terrestrial storage this particular approach is currently the most worthwhile for scientists.4 To enable further progress with regard to this specific type of CSS it is necessary to analyze the international regimes on the disposal of waste in the marine environment. If these international agreements in their current form hinder the concept of CCS it is in the responsibility of the contracting parties to take actions to advance CCS and its further development.

Therefore, this paper will deal in chapter “C” with the most relevant regulatory systems on that topic, namely the UNCLOS5, the London Convention6, the London Protocol7 and the OSPAR Convention8.

In the end, this paper will give in chapter “D” a short summary on the findings, some general remarks on the topic of CCS and an outlook what should happen on the international scene with regard to the concept of CCS.

B. Technical Basics of CCS

The concept of CCS involves, as the name already indicates, three main steps that will be explained briefly below.

I. Capture

For the Capture of CO2 three different models are discussed in the current state of science. All of them are designed to sequestrate the CO2 from large point sources such as power plants or oil refineries.

First of all, the method of post-combustion has the enormous advantage that it can be, at least in principle, retrofitted to existing constructions. After burning the fossil fuels, the CO2 will be captured through chemical absorption using a solvent. This technology is already available in little, but has the disadvantages that on the one hand enormous investments have to be made and on the other hand the efficiency of the plants would decrease. This would lead to the problem that even more fossil fuels have to be used to obtain the same energy as before.9

The second option is the pre-combustion technology based on the conversion of the fuel to CO, CO2 and H2 from which the CO can be converted to CO2 in a water-gas- shift reaction. All the CO2 can then be separated from the H2, which then can be burnt in a gas turbine. The main problem here is that there is no stable and technological full developed hydrogen-fuelled gas turbine technology which makes the whole process even without the separation of CO2 highly complex.

Thirdly, the method of oxyful combustion replaces the air for combustion by almost pure oxygen mixed with a re-circulating flue gas. Here, the only additional energy needed is used for the air separation process and research is already seeking for technologies with lower energy consumption. Nevertheless, at the current state an aftertreatment is needed, because the CO2 is too impurified.10

Nevertheless, in this early stage of development, it is unclear which technology is the most advantageous for capturing CO2.

II. Transportation

The most well-known option for transporting the CO2 is a pipeline system due to the large volumes that can occur in the industry and with respect to the possibly arising costs. In the United States of America such a system of CO2-pipelines has been established very recently, but nevertheless it has to be considered that there is definitely more investigation needed with regard to the effects of leakages of these type of pipelines which will probably cross through more populated areas than other pipelines.11

III. Storage

The last step of storing the CO2 is the crucial part of the CCS concept. As mentioned above, terrestrial formations in the ground and under the sea-subbed are mostly qualified for step, e.g. depleted oil and gas reservoirs. Because of its special attributes, CO2 changes its aggregate state and its density under the influence of particular depths and temperatures. For that reason, storage facilities in a depth below 3000 meters would be most adequate. Nevertheless, the current active projects all over the world are making use of a depth around 800 meters because of technical and financial reasons.12

The greatest storage potential is attributed to deep saline aquifers. Statoil as an example has captured approximately one million tons of CO2 from its natural gas production at the Sleipner-Field in the North Sea. Moreover, the potential is enormous. Various valuations showed that the North Sea alone has the potential to store all of Europe’s CO2 emissions for several hundreds of years.13

Other approaches, such as the injection of CO2 in the water column or above the seabed are currently not considered by any scientific analysis and are furthermore, in the European Union, forbidden by the Directive 2009/31/EC14.

Nevertheless, the storage of CO2 has significantly environmental issues implied. The danger of a leakage through porosities and fissures within the rock cannot be ignored. Escaping CO2 can lead to a support of the acid impact on the marine wildlife, even by now one of its major problems. Likewise, the CO2 would again

escape into the atmosphere and CCS would be useless. Even more disturbing is the risk that a sudden large-scale gas emanation could cause a huge impact on the local live around the storage facility. In addition, the injection of CO2 into sub-seabed geological formations could lead to a transformation of the rocks which could peak in an increased number of earthquakes. As mentioned above, other waste compounds connected to the CO2 cannot be separated from it and it is still unclear which effects these could have on the marine environment.15


1 cf. Schlacke, Klimaschutz durch CO2-Speicherung im Meeresboden, EurUP 2007, p. 87ff.

2 cf. IEA, CCS - Model Regulatory Framework 2010, p. 13.

3 cf. IEA, CCS - Legal and Regulatory Review 2011, p. 16.

4 cf. Missling, Die Gestaltung des deutschen Ordnungsrahmens, ZUR 2008, p. 286.

5 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982.

6 International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 29 December 1972.

7 1996 Protocol to the “Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 29 December 1972” of 7 November 1996.

8 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic and the North Sea of 22 September 1992.

9 cf. Wißmann, Kohlendioxidspeicherung als “Klimaretter für die Kohle”?, Klimaschutz nach Kopenhagen 2011, p. 60.

10 cf. Johnson, Perspectives on CO2 capture and storage, GHG 2011, p. 122.

11 cf. Johnson, Perspectives on CO2 capture and storage, GHG 2011, p. 123.

12 cf. Stoll/Lehmann, Die Speicherung von CO2 im Meeresuntergrund, ZUR 2008, p. 281f.

13 cf. Johnson, Perspectives on CO2 capture and storage, GHG 2011, p. 123f.

14 Directive 2009/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009.

15 cf. Schlacke, Klimaschutz durch CO2-Speicherung im Meeresboden, EurUP 2007, p. 89.


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Title: Carbon Capture and Storage and international maritime agreements