Storage liability in the EU
The EU Directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide stipulates that installing, operating and monitoring of CO2-stores is the task of private operators (predominantly large energy companies).
The private operators will be responsible for the stored CO2 until stores after approval by the competent authority i.e. the governments in each of the member states can be shut down safely. It is stated in the Directive in Article 18 about the Transfer of responsibility:
“ Transfer of responsibility
1. Where a storage site has been closed pursuant to points (a)or (b) of Article 17(1), all legal obligations relating to monitoringand corrective measures pursuant to the requirements laid downin this Directive, the surrender of allowances in the event of leakages pursuant to Directive 2003/87/EC and preventive and remedial action pursuant to Articles 5(1) and 6(1) of Directive2004/35/EC, shall be transferred to the competent authority on its own initiative or upon request from the operator, if the following conditions are met: (a) all available evidence indicates that the stored CO2 will be completely and permanently contained;(b) a minimum period, to be determined by the competentauthority has elapsed. This minimum period shall be noshorter than 20 years, unless the competent authority is convinced that the criterion referred to in point (a) is compliedwith before the end of that period;(c) the financial obligations referred to in Article 20 have beenfulfilled;(d) the site has been sealed and the injection facilities have been removed. …
8. Where a storage site has been closed pursuant toArticle 17(1)(c), transfer of responsibility shall be deemed to take place if and when all available evidence indicates that the stored CO2 will be completely and permanently contained, and after the site has been sealed and the injection facilities have been removed. “
What does this mean? It means that operators are responsible as long as stores are in operation. After shutdown, which includes sealing and removal of injection equipment, the public takes over responsibility for closed stores. How long responsibility remains with the operators depends on the storage capacity and quantities of captured CO2 from associated point sources. The liability period of the private operator will probably typically be a couple of decades equalling the 20 years minimum mentioned in the Directive after which the government takes over all liabilities. How much this is going to cost taxpayers in the future is impossible to say. It depends on the extent of leakages and the future price of CO2.