COLUMBUS — The future of Ohio oil and gas may not lie in exploration and production. It might lie in decarbonization efforts.
Class VI injection wells were brought up at several presentations during the 76th annual Ohio Oil and Gas Association meeting, held March 8-10, in Columbus. These are injection wells that could be used for carbon capture and sequestration.
The process is relatively new, and there are only a few permitted Class VI injection wells scattered around the U.S. The Class VI injection well was established in 2010 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to inject carbon dioxide into deep rock formations for long term storage.
The wells are mostly still permitted at the federal level. Only two states — Wyoming and North Dakota — have primacy over Class VI, which allows them to run their own permitting and regulation programs. An application for a Class VI injection well in Lorain County is sitting before the EPA, along with about 40 other projects.
Matt Magnum, business opportunity manager for Shell, presented a plan on a decarbonization hub in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, part of that would include Class IV injection wells. He stressed the need for states to have primacy over these wells.
“What that would allow us all to do is streamline the process by which we can obtain Class VI injection permits and allow states the opportunity to manage and deconflict drilling and injection permits in their own backyards,” he said.
Most states have primacy over the other types of underground disposal wells, like Class II injection wells that are used to dispose of brine and drilling fluids used in oil and gas production.
Ohio is in the process of applying for primacy for Class VI wells. Eric Vendel, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Oil and Gas Division chief, said during his presentation at the OOGA meeting that it’s a lengthy process. West Virginia is one of four states with a pending application for Class VI injection well primacy.
With the Biden administration’s push for decarbonization efforts, it’s unclear why the EPA is sitting on so many well permits and primacy applications. EPA administrator Michael Regan said during CERAWeek, a premier energy conference organized by S&P Global, held March 6-10, that they’re working with states to get programs going.
“This is an obvious, interesting technology to the state for lots of reasons,” Regan said. “And so, we’re working with our state partners to be sure that those who can safely deploy can do it in a timely fashion.”
Other news from the OOGA Annual Meeting
After 25 years as the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education program, commonly called “OOGEEP,” the organization rebranded itself as the Ohio Natural Energy Institute. The new name “represents the vast Ohio natural resources and highlight the essential role this organization play sin education Ohioans on the energy that makes life better” according to a news release. Though the name is broad, the group will focus specifically on natural gas and oil production.
Also during the meeting the Ohio Department of Natural Resources gave an update on the Division of Oil and Gas’s Orphan Well Program. Last year the department spent $11.5 million to plug 159 orphan wells through the program, said Jason Simmerman, Orphan Well Program manager. In 2021, 181 wells were plugged for $11.2 million.
That’s a stark contrast to a decade ago, in 2013, when just 10 orphan wells were plugged. The program has benefited from the shale gas boom, which pumped money into the program through the state’s oil and gas severance tax. It will also benefit from the federal infrastructure bill, which is directing more than $300 million to the state’s orphan well program.
(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-201-1544.)
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