BP spending $100 million to bury CO2 under Sahara, hopes it stays there

With the countdown to Kyoto nearing its end, oil and gas company BP is experimenting with burying some of its carbon-dioxide emissions deep underground in the Sahara desert. The burial project’s price tag of $100 million is expected to cover the injection of about one million tons of CO2 each year for some 20 years — the expected lifetime of the natural-gas processing plant producing the CO2. But the project is not without its problems. One of the two custom-built compressors that force the CO2 underground has been broken for months, so about 30 percent of the gas intended for burial has been escaping into the atmosphere. BP’s biggest worry, though, is whether the CO2 that actually makes it underground will stay there; geologists are monitoring the situation. If the project proves effective, it could serve as a model for other energy companies seeking to reduce carbon emissions without cutting production.