Wyoming grants its first three Class VI permits

By Kimberly Mazza

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Three Class VI permits have been issued by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) – marking the first Class VI permits to be issued for the state of Wyoming.  

Class VI permits are granted for the storage of CO2  in deep geological formations. The Wyoming Legislature worked with the DEQ to develop a program granting the state primacy to review and approve Class VI permits through the underground injection control (UIC) program. In 2020, Wyoming received primacy from the EPA; one of two states to have received this authority.  North Dakota is the other state with primacy.  

“First steps are important, but these first permits did not come without a lot of preparatory work by both DEQ and Frontier Carbon Solutions.  I extend my congratulations to both.  This step launches a unique opportunity for Wyoming’s citizens, industries, and economy,” Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said. 

Lily Barkau, Groundwater Section Manager of DEQ’s Water Quality Division leads the team that has worked on establishing the Class VI program.  “We worked two years to stand up the program.  To see these permits come to fruition is quite exciting,” Lily said. 

Frontier Carbon Solutions has been awarded the permits for three deep wells west of Green River, Wyo.  These initial wells are part of the Sweetwater Carbon Storage Hub that will provide a carbon management system  for key industries across the Mountain West. The company will inject industrial sources of carbon dioxide underground for permanent storage. 

Frontier Carbon Solutions’ three permits took 10 months to go through the review process. “Compared to the federal EPA process, this is a relatively short time,” said Lily. “Wyoming has set up an efficient and rigorous process, working with the permittee to see that our standards are met.  Frontier Carbon Solutions was a great first partner.  We will continue to refine and streamline our process as more companies apply for Class VI permits.” 

Under the permit, Frontier Carbon Solutions will proceed in two steps. The first, slated to begin next summer, involves construction, drilling, and testing of the injection wells to clearly identify and define the underground storage area.  Once completed, a unitization order for the pore space will be sought from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. If granted, the DEQ will issue the second part of the permit, which will be to inject.

“DEQ staff will be on-site to witness the drilling. This is a part of our assurance process. We will be engaged with the whole development,” Lily stated.

The DEQ’s primary job is to ensure underground sources of drinking water are protected, which is something that is not new to the agency since it has been doing this for several decades. Wyoming obtained primacy for other UIC program well classes in 1983.  Lily noted that the knowledge and skills gained over these 40 years are transferable. “As a result of this history and experience, the DEQ is well equipped and well positioned to manage the Class VI program,” she added.

Todd Parfitt, Director of the DEQ commended the DEQ staff for this accomplishment and for the dedication exhibited for Wyoming. “The State of Wyoming continues to be a leader when it comes to energy production and managing our natural resources. Carbon capture is a major initiative in Governor Gordon’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy approach. These permits will continue to help Wyoming meet her environmental and economic goals.”

The three Class VI permits can be viewed here.

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