California Resources Corp. (CRC) moved closer to its goal of capturing and storing CO2 at the Elk Hills Field after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released draft Class VI well permits for CRC’s carbon management business called Carbon TerraVault (CTV).

The draft permits for the wells, to be located about 20 miles west of Bakersfield, California, are open for public comment. Four public workshops and a public hearing are scheduled.

“This is a significant milestone for California as it moves to attain its ambitious climate goals,” CRC CEO Francisco Leon said in a Dec. 20 news release. “We are committed to supporting the state in reaching carbon neutrality and developing a more sustainable future for all Californians.”

If required regulatory approvals are secured, the company will have permission to drill California’s first wells for underground CO2 sequestration in a depleted oil and gas field. Plans include injecting CO2 at a rate of about 1.46 million metric tons (MT) per annum into Elk Hill’s 26-R reservoir located in California’s Kern County. The reservoir, part of the CTV I carbon capture and storage (CCS) vault, has an estimated capacity of up to 38 MMmt, CRC said in the release.

EPA has proposed issuing four Class VI Underground Injection Control permits to construct and operate the wells—one permit for each well—authorizing injection of CO2 at a depth of about 6,000 ft. Three of the four wells will be newly drilled to inject carbon into the ground, while one well is an existing injection well that will be converted to a Class VI well.

“After completing a thorough technical review of all information submitted by CTV in its permit application, as well as the operational standards, monitoring requirements and existing geologic setting, EPA has determined that the activities authorized under the Draft Class VI UIC permits are protective of underground sources of drinking water as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act,” the EPA said.

Kern County’s Planning and Natural Resources Department also released the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report, which is open for public review and comment.