August 2023, Vol. 250, No. 8

Guest Perspective

Guest Perspective Interview: Tackling CO2 Storage on the Gulf Coast

(P&GJ) — In this interview, Crescent Midstream CEO Jerry Ashcroft discusses the CO2 storage project his company has developed near the Louisiana Coast and its related new pipeline. 

P&GJ: Can you tell our readers some of the specifics of the CO2 storage project that Crescent Midstream has been developing near the Louisiana Coast?  

Jerry Ashcroft: This project is one of the largest offshore CO2 storage projects in the United States. It is expected to hold up to 300 million tonnes of CO2 that would otherwise be emitted on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. The goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of transporting and permanently storing CO2 on a commercial scale offshore.

Jerry Ashcroft

Underscoring the project’s significant potential, the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that it is supporting the project through its CarbonSAFE program. CarbonSAFE was created to advance projects that address the technical challenges of capturing CO2 from power plants and industrial facilities or directly from the atmosphere and increase the number of storage sites progressing toward commercial operation.  

In addition to Crescent Midstream, this project is a collaboration of Cox Operating and its affiliate Carbon Zero US LLC, Repsol, Crescent Resource Innovation, the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), Louisiana State University and Southern University at Shreveport.  

We’re thrilled to be part of it and look forward to helping demonstrate the potential of large-scale CCS. At the same time, and given our role, we look forward to becoming one of the first full-service midstream solutions for CCS in the process. Pipelines and their financial structures are an often-overlooked component of the CCS equation. We can fill that gap, as we are doing with this project.  

P&GJ: As I understand it, this would involve construction of a new pipeline. Have any dimensions or other specs been determined for this infrastructure? 

Ashcroft: Depending on the amount of CO2 being transported, we expect the new pipeline will be 12-inch or 16-inch in diameter and will cover approximately 110 miles.  

P&GJ: Crescent plans to repurpose an existing pipeline corridor as part of that project. Can you elaborate on that part of the project? 

Ashcroft: Our role in the project is to create the vital connection between carbon dioxide emitters and permanent underground storage. It’s a role that just makes sense for us. We’ve already got the capabilities to run safe and reliable pipelines and our operations and personnel are already located in Louisiana.  

Our footprint already connects emitters to the offshore sink, and as such, we plan to repurpose 110-miles of it from Geismar to Grand Isle. Storage will be located approximately 60 miles offshore, connecting four platforms. Pump stations will be located at the emitting companies, with potentially a booster pump station at Grand Isle.  

P&GJ: What would be some of the drawbacks to repurposing an existing pipeline for this type of project? 

Ashcroft: Most existing pipelines are not suitable for the transport of carbon dioxide. We would expect that for a project of this size, new pipelines would have to be built.  

P&GJ: How stringent is the permitting process for a CO2 storage pipeline? Does it differ significantly from other types of midstream energy pipeline projects? 

Ashcroft: The permitting process for CO2 pipelines is at least as stringent as that for energy pipelines. Similarly, the permitting process for CO2 storage wells is very stringent, currently requiring two-and-a-half to three years for a permit, which involves substantial subsurface assessment and usually geologic test wells. 

With Crescent, we have the capabilities to design, estimate, finance, build and operate the systems. We already have assets in the ground – about 1,500 miles of pipeline in the Gulf Coast region – which helps facilitate challenges around permitting and construction.  

Our leaders have engineered and operated tens of thousands of miles across the U.S. both onshore and offshore. They bring considerable experience with Class II and Class VI well permitting and storage. And we bring an extensive track record, structuring and commercializing projects across various energy verticals spanning three decades.  

P&GJ: How will you go about addressing the concerns of residents and those operating businesses near the project and along the pipeline corridor?  

Ashcroft: Crescent takes seriously our commitment to being a good neighbor within our communities. Our people work and live and raise their families in these communities.  

So in addition to operating safe and reliable pipelines, we have been actively involved in community outreach across Southern Louisiana and have supported numerous organizations that drive a positive social impact within our operating footprint.  

We have and currently support the Inter-Tribal Council of Louisiana (ITCLA), a workforce development organization serving American Indian people in Louisiana; the Haven, which serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes; the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Terrebonne Parish five years running; and we have conducted marsh preservation projects to mitigate coastal erosion in areas impacted by inclement weather.  

In addition, we recently agreed to sponsor oil well plugging and site restoration in Louisiana conducted by the Well Done Foundation (WDF). The foundation stops orphaned oil wells from discharging methane emissions, a gas that is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. 

As is the case with this and any project, we have and will continue to focus on potential impacts to the communities near existing and planned pipelines. Once a decision is made to proceed, we will conduct open houses to address any community concerns.  

Because we already have relationships and a positive track record in the area, and because we already have a license to operate pipelines there in Louisiana, we believe we are strongly positioned to help ensure a positive outcome for stakeholders.  

P&GJ: Separately, what regions is Crescent Midstream concentrating on for future CO2 storage projects? 

Ashcroft: We are currently focused on Louisiana, because that is where we have the greatest construction and operational experience. We’re really looking to take advantage of our existing operational footprint as we move into the energy transition. That said, we always look for opportunities that make the most sense for our business and will continue to assess potential projects in other areas of the United States as well.  

P&GJ: Has Crescent given any consideration to projects that repurpose CO2 for commercial use, rather than storing it? 

Ashcroft: While we would be willing to set up supply agreements with any company utilizing carbon dioxide, creating uses for CO2 is generally beyond our scope. We are experts in the operation of safe and reliable pipelines. That is what has underpinned our recent rapid growth, through both organic activities and acquisitions. With this momentum, we are looking to harness that into the energy transition.  

As it relates to CCS, we have the capabilities to run CO2 pipelines and the personnel to do that and the resources in Louisiana. We are blessed with a strategic footprint. With CO2, we’ll just be reversing the flow. At the end of the day, CO2 is a new product that we’ll be needing to safely transport, which we have proven we can do and we’re excited to extend into the CCS space. 

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