Using CCUS and Other Technologies to Reduce GHG Emissions
Posted April 22, 2021
As the White House hosts the Leaders Summit on Climate, it’s important to reiterate the natural gas and oil industry’s commitment to address the climate challenge while also supplying the affordable, reliable energy our country counts on every day. Industry’s goal is to engage with President Biden and Congress on those parallel priorities.
Meeting the climate/energy challenge is at the heart of API’s Climate Action Framework – with an emphasis on “action.” Americans, as seen in new polling, expect our nation to tackle both in a workable, common-sense manner, and the framework details just such a plan of action – from endorsing a government price on carbon to carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), methane regulation and more.
Key in the Climate Action Framework is accelerating technologies and innovation, such as CCUS, to support global leaders’ goal of meeting the world’s growing need for energy while also advancing a lower-carbon future. Just this week ExxonMobil announced a $100 billion proposal to create a multiuser carbon capture hub near the Houston Ship Channel to safely store carbon dioxide from a variety of sources below the seafloor.
ExxonMobil believes infrastructure could be built to safely capture and permanently store about 50 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 a year by 2030 and 100 MMT per year by 2040, effectively accounting for all the CO2 emissions from the petrochemical, manufacturing and electricity generating facilities in the area. That’s the amount of CO2 captured by about 120 million acres of forest per year, or an area larger than California. ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Darren Woods and Joe Blommaert, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
The lessons and knowledge gained in Houston could be applied to other parts of the country with similar industrial concentrations, including the Midwest and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. As the world’s leader in CCS, with about 40% of the total anthropogenic CO2 captured to date and multiple CCS projects under way around the world, ExxonMobil is eager to play our part to advance this promising concept. CCS would bring us closer to the lower-carbon future we all seek.
Sommers, during an interview with Yahoo Finance:
“[W]e talk a lot about pricing carbon, but we also have a focus on innovation. And innovation in this case means investment in particularly carbon capture and storage technologies. And we're excited that many of our member companies are stepping up to the plate now to make sure that they're investing in these technologies. But we know that there's more to do and more incentives that can be put in place by the federal government as they start talking about the infrastructure package that's being considered in the Congress.”
The ExxonMobil proposal is just one example of the way natural gas and oil companies are stepping up to develop and use technologies and to make investments that reduce emissions while also meeting energy needs. This is a critical role for our industry to play now and in the decades to come, as natural gas and oil continue be leading energy sources for the U.S. and the world – the International Energy Agency projects they will provide nearly half the world’s energy in 2040. Some others:
More on CCUS
- As noted in this post, CCUS has applications for many industries, not just natural gas and oil. It was recently announced that UCLA CarbonBuilt won the Carbon XPRIZE contest – a global competition to develop profitable ways to implement carbon capture – for its work to reduce the carbon footprint in cement manufacturing by more than 50%. Producing portland cement, the key ingredient that binds and strengthens concrete, accounts for about 7% of global CO2 emissions. This technology injects flue gas streams from power plants or cement factories into concrete mixtures where it is stored.
- The Guardian has this article on an exhibition at London’s Science Museum on carbon capture from the air that is repurposed into bottles, toothpaste tubes, pens and yoga mats. Technologies for direct air capture include an artificial tree featuring dangling panels of carbon-absorbing material that mimics the ability of living plants to inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen.
BP has announced plans to spend about $1.3 billion on a network of pipelines and other infrastructure to capture natural gas associated with oil production in the Permian Basin. The company wants to eliminate routine flaring in its Permian operations by 2025.
BP already has invested about $300 million, mostly on a natural gas processing facility near Orla, Texas. That facility uses a separation and compression system for recovery of natural gas, which the company sells instead of flaring it.
Detecting and tracking methane
Other elements in API’s Climate Action Framework include further mitigating emissions from operations and driving reporting on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Our industry supports the direct regulation of methane from new and existing sources and is committed to advancing the development and use of new technologies to better detect and reduce emissions.
Already technology and efficiency measures have reduced emissions relative to production in the largest basins by nearly 70% between 2011 and 2019 (from data here and here), and we continue to work to drive methane emissions rates downward.
At the same time, energy producers have reduced methane flaring and are working to improve current practices. The Environmental Partnership added a flaring management program last year, focusing on information sharing on best practices, advancing new and proven technologies and fostering collaboration to reduce emissions and compile data to guide efforts to minimize flaring.
Timely and accurate GHG reporting from all emitting sectors is critical to build a transparent fact base for market-based solutions and government policy. API is working to expand use of reporting guidance for industry on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Technologies are helping advance these efforts. Some include vehicle-based sensors, solar-powered systems that create a detection network around production sites, imaging cameras and even inspection dogs that sniff out proprietary tracer odorants injected in pipelines.
Castrol has launched a partnership with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams to help the team reduce its environmental impact through sustainability initiatives, such as offsetting carbon emissions from air travel to away games during the 2021 season.
Again, these are but a few examples of the technology and investment pushes to reduce GHG emissions across our economy. Our industry is heavily engaged in that push, which is essential to protecting the environment, advancing climate goals and providing affordable, reliable energy that makes modern life possible. Sommers to Yahoo Finance:
“Our focus is on making sure that the United States remains the world energy leader, particularly on oil and gas. And I'll tell you why that's important, because outside analysts project that 50% of the world's energy will still be from oil and gas in the year 2040. So, the real question is whether they're going to get that oil and gas from the United States, as the world energy leader, or get it from regimes that are hostile to the United States, because we know the world’s going to continue to demand oil and gas far into the future.”
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.
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