Carbon Capture concept
The Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), or sometimes called Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), is a masterpiece in the loop of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) lifecycle.
The main concept behind CCUS is to limit or reduce the emission of CO2 in the atmosphere by trapping gases created by combustion of fossil fuels in industrial processes to be then re-injected and stored underground, thus, decreasing Greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, some scenarios are already going further along the CO2 lifecycle in considering reusing CO2 as a raw product.
Some others are also eyeing on capturing the CO2 from domestic producer.
Carbon capture is a crucial stream to diffuse climate change, as a transition to renewable energies alone would not be enough to achieve global targets of CO2 emission reduction.
Connections with Oil & Gas
If we are looking Carbon Capture in term of technology, the link with current activities of Oil & Gas is more than obvious.
Technology wise, the Carbon Capture value chain can be divided in 3 categories:
- Carbon Capture : happening directly at the emission source, for example in industrial complexes. The typical installation would be to capture the CO2 post-combustion by absorption. The CO2 then needs to be compressed, as any gas, to be piped out for transportation.
- Carbon Transportation : achieved by pipeline or by ships, the Carbon transportation is a look alike of any other gas conveyance. The difference in this case relies in the nature of the gas and the transport happening in the opposite direction than usual gases, from the emission location to the storage site.
- Carbon Sequestration : once transported CO2 needs to be injected into geological formations to be stored. These geological formations can be empty Oil & Gas fields, underground caverns, or to boost production in depleting Oil & Gas fields.
Because of its technological similarities with the petroleum and chemical industry processes, the operating companies see more added value to transpose their conventional know-how into CCUS projects than in Renewable Energies where the engineering and operating value is minor compared with the equipment value.
Beside the financial aspects, any kind of company is able to build, own and operate a renewable energies plant, could be wind or solar, but very few companies are able to design and run a CCUS project.
The opportunity for Oil & Gas
After decades of quiet evolution, Carbon Capture seems to finally happen and overcome its barrier of monetization.
Why so? There are many reasons but all are pressing for the quick development of these projects.
First, because there is no escape from Carbon Capture in any scenario trying to mitigate climate change.
Thus, many governments, especially in Europe, Canada and Saudi Arabia are funding projects of CCUS to reduce their carbon footprints, while they explore acceptable solutions to create a CO2 taxation market.
Second, many operators of the Oil & Gas industry have vowed to become Carbon neutral by 2050.
Unfortunately investing in renewable energies, as such, has nearly no impact to reduce their carbon footprint, compared with same investment in CCUS projects removing immediately tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The momentum of Carbon Capture is also supported by the post Covid-19 situation where governments around the world are trying to boost their economies by investing in meaningful projects to take competitive advantage in the energy transition.
These Carbon Capture projects come as a natural fit to government agendas, while actors of the Oil & Gas industry see it as the most efficient way to value their know-how in a sustainable transition.
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