The CERM Project aims to provide information that will lead to increased oil production and possibly sequester carbon dioxide emissions. However, like most industrial processes, there are few risks associated with CO2EOR such as gas leaks and ground water contamination.
CERM has been conducting preliminary research as it relates to the general public’s reaction to CO2EOR. The two main apprehensions are safety and environmental concerns. Both of which can be remedied by properly educating the public on the process of CO2EOR, and ensuring that they are aware of policies already in place to mitigate the environmental risks.
The Trinidad and Tobago Environmental Management Act Chapter 35:05 outlines Designated Activities (24-29) specifically for the oil and gas industry. Designated Activities 25 and 27 are especially relevant to the CERM Project:
Through the process of obtaining a Certificate of Environmental Clearance, the operator will be required to state all cumulative potential risks and impacts, the proposed mitigation measures and a monitoring plan. The public will be given a chance to voice their opinion about these safety measures during stakeholder consultations.
The general public's other possible concerns may be related to the source, transport and storage of CO2, and the protocol to be followed in the event of a possible CO2 leak either into the underground water table or into the atmosphere. These issues will also be addressed under the Designated Activities of the Environmental Management Act.
Before environmental clearance is granted for any CO2EOR project, a thorough risk assessment and updated emergency response and oil spill contingency plans are required. The proximity of the project site to human and ecological receptors must also be considered, and the integrity of project components (pipelines, storage facilities, etc.) will be inspected.
The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago can be confident that CO2EOR will not be implemented on a larger scale until sufficient mitigation strategies are in place to address potential risks.
The CERM Project is a collaboration between academic institutions, The University of the West Indies (UWI) and The University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT), and Government Energy Institutions - the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI), PETROTRIN and the National Gas Company (NGC) toward sustainable development of known oil reserves using Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery.