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Monday, 5 June 2023

Carbon capture and storage investments are gaining traction regionally

Regional investment in CCUS is picking up: The recent conclusion of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) Forum hosted by Qatar in Lusail City marked an increased interest in CCUS investments and new tech as the public and private sector look for new ways to reach decarbonization targets. COP28 President-Designate Sultan Al Jaber’s call to reduce fossil fuel “emissions” rather than “production” in his opening speech at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin emphasized the importance of carbon capture and storage in the global need to curb global warming.

Agreements are picking up this year: Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to develop new potentials in CCUS projects and Adnoc said it will allocate USD 15 bn to decarbonization projects such as CCUS by 2030. Three facilities developed by Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), and QatarEnergy together account for around 10% of global CO2 captured each year, according to a 2022 status report by the Global CCS Institute. Analysis by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries forecasted that the CCUS market in the region will reach 50 mn metric tons per year in a decade compared to around 4 mn metric tons per year in 2021, according to S&P Global.

Aramco is stepping up its game with an ambitious project to launch in 2027: Aramco is developing one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage hubs with the capacity to store up to 9 mn tons of CO2 a year by 2027, and 44 mn tons by 2035. The carbon will be captured from Jubail Industrial City, in partnership with oil services giant SLB and chemical company Linde. The company is also working on drilling a first-of-its-kind carbon saline aquifer that can store 100% of the carbon injected in it, according to a statement. Adnoc’s aquifer will have the capacity to sequester — another word for capture and store — a minimum of 18k tons of CO2 annually from Fertiglobe’s blue hydrogen production plants.

And other companies are trailing behind: QatarEnergy and GE signed an MoU to develop a carbon capture roadmap for Qatar’s energy sector. Japan’s Mitsubishi is working with Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) to capture CO2 from its smelter and flue gas plants, according to S&P. Both projects could ultimately capture 500k to 1 mn metric tons per year by 2030.

EOR under fire? 88% of global CO2 captured is used to boost Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) according to a IHS Markit report cited by Vox. Climate groups pushing for the phaseout of oil and gas criticize EOR given its role in increasing fossil fuel production, as Aramco plans to use its carbon capture products to help expand its oil production capacity to 13 mn barrels per day by 2027. Aramco, however, has stated that EOR will only improve the effectiveness of production, rather than increase its volume, according to Upstream.

A tool to decarbonize: Over the past two decades, around 54–57% of total greenhouse gas emissions came from the top 20 oil refining companies, making the industry the third largest source of GHG emissions. CCS holds great potential to reduce those emissions as the world awaits a possible oil and gas phasing out plan during COP28.

And there’s new tech on the way: Direct air capture — the capture of carbon directly from the atmosphere rather than from the source of the emission — has been the target of much research, but a future energy scenario modeled by Shell revealed that capturing carbon from the air proved to be too energy intensive for it to play a significant role in reaching global climate goals. A recently leaked UN note said that direct air capture “does not contribute to reducing the global mitigation costs.” US Climate Envoy John Kerry recently said that governments should stop relying on potential advancements in carbon dioxide removal technologies.

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