Introduction to Carbon Capture
What is carbon capture?
Carbon capture and storage, also known as carbon sequestration or carbon capture and storage (CCS), refers to the collection of carbon dioxide generated from point source pollution (such as thermal power plants), transporting them to storage locations and long-term storage. Technical process of air isolation.
The main purpose of this technology is to prevent the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels in power generation or other industries, and it is also a potential means to reduce global warming caused by the emissions released from the use of fossil fuels and ocean acidification. While the technique of injecting carbon dioxide into formations has been used for decades, for example, to enhance oil recovery, long-term storage of carbon dioxide is a newer concept.
Why are oil companies involved?
Most of the companies involved are giants related to oil production for the following reasons:
- Oil producers, themselves big producers of carbon dioxide, are under pressure from the huge image and regulations of carbon neutrality.
- Because carbon capture requires a huge storage area, oil is the ideal permanent storage area for carbon capture after it is pumped out of the ground.
- Carbon capture requires very large capital, oil producers have the capacity and resources.
- The links involved in carbon capture are all chemical and mining technologies, and oil producers themselves possess most of the core technologies.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. President Biden’s administration sees direct air capture (DAC) technology as a tool that, if it can be commercialized and applied on an industrial scale, will help achieve the 2050 goal of carbon neutrality. While carbon capture targets emissions from industrial facilities, DAC autonomously removes carbon dioxide from the air.
Carbon capture technology is a profitable business, coupled with the support of climate change by laws, tax laws, subsidies, etc. around the world; and the mandatory disclosure of ESG principles by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and stock market authorities in various countries, carbon capture prospects are beyond doubt. But carbon capture technology is still in a very early stage, and it’s a common phenomenon at the beginning of any new industry for companies to invest early to seize the opportunity.
How big is the potential market?
According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), EU member states will emit 3.7 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2020 alone. To achieve climate neutrality, the 27 EU countries need to capture and store about 300 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050.
Drawbacks and Limitations
The carbon capture and storage process also emits greenhouse gases, with the energy-intensive process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide itself emitting 21% of the gas captured, according to the Australian think tank IEEFA. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPC C) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) continue to see carbon capture as one of the means necessary to achieve climate goals.
Government and regulations
In April 2023, according to a report by CNN, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to make the U.S. carbon-neutral by 2050 and the power generation industry to reach its goal by 2035. To this end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will launch a new carbon reduction bill and focus on natural gas power plants with high carbon footprints. The new law will require existing and new coal-fired power plants to be equipped with carbon capture technology to prevent the carbon they release from entering the atmosphere.
Many governments, including the United States and Europe, have set aside substantial subsidies for carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that projects in Texas and Louisiana will receive more than $1 billion in federal funding. Some of the money will be used to finance Occidental’s proposed 30 DAC plants in the Kleinberg, Texas area.
Texas and Louisiana will be the first sites to receive $3.5 billion in funding from a bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress for regional DAC centers.
Real momentum is now building after the US Inflation Cut Act of 2022 won generous tax incentives for carbon capture and storage technologies. The technology is one of the climate solutions favored by big oil companies.
Companies involved in carbon capture
Shell (US stock code: SHELL) set a precedent in the industry in 2018. Shell determines executive bonuses based on carbon reduction. Moreover, the company will make historic changes in 2021, announcing that it will begin to cut oil production, (please note: Shell is one of the world’s three largest oil production companies) and will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Quest’s capture and storage process involves four basic stages: capture, compression, transport through pipelines, and storage. Annual carbon capture (in tonnes of CO2): 1.2 million tonnes.
Quest Carbon Capture and Storage is a project developed and operated by Shell Canada that involves the capture and storage of carbon dioxide emitted by an asphalt upgrading plant in Alberta, Canada. Completed in 2015, the project is one of the largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the world.
Using a process called post-combustion capture, the Quest project captures up to 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted annually by Scotford Upgrader, a facility that processes bitumen from the oil sands. The captured carbon dioxide is then transported through pipelines and stored in salt banks deep underground, where it is expected to be stored for thousands of years.
Occidental Petroleum (ticker: OXY) aims to build about 100 plants using direct air capture (DAC) technology, which pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to bury it underground or use it to make things like concrete and jet fuel product. DAC technology is in the early stages of commercialization and requires significant investment to prove its economics and profitability.
Acquired Carbon Engineering
In August 2023, Occidental Petroleum agreed to buy technology provider Carbon Engineering Ltd for $1.1 billion to help it develop a series of carbon capture sites, hoping to help the company profit from the fight against climate change.
Carbon Engineering is one of the world’s top carbon capture manufacturers. The company was founded by David Keith, a professor at Harvard University. He pioneered the method of removing large amounts of carbon dioxide directly from the air. After capturing carbon dioxide, it can be buried in the ground or used for various industrial purposes. .
Early investors in Carbon Engineering included Bill Gates, Chevron (ticker: CVX), BHP Billiton (ticker: BHP), Occidental Petroleum and several family offices.
Will be the world’s largest carbon capture plant
Occidental Petroleum has begun construction of the world’s largest carbon capture plant in the fall of 2022
Since 2019, Occidental has been working with Carbon Engineering to apply its technology to the Stratos carbon capture project in West Texas, which is expected to be the world’s largest direct air capture carbon dioxide (DAC) plant by 2025.
In addition to the Stratos project, Occidental plans to use Carbon Engineering’s technology at its King Ranch DAC center in South Texas, which last week received financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The company’s current annual carbon capture (in tons of carbon dioxide): 800 million tons.
CarbonFree is a company that uses patented technology to capture carbon dioxide from stationary point source emitters and convert it into carbon negative chemicals. The company’s innovative products, SkyCycle™ and SkyMine®, use captured carbon dioxide to create useful chemicals such as sodium bicarbonate, precipitated calcium carbonate, and hydrochloric acid.
CarbonFree’s modular and scalable technology can be used on-site, eliminating the need for expensive infrastructure to transport and store captured CO2. The company’s goal is to help all industrial manufacturing plants reduce carbon emissions and create sustainable, environmentally friendly products.
The total carbon capture capacity is 1 Gt.
Founded in 2006, Carbfix is an Icelandic company specializing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The company’s unique CCS method involves injecting captured carbon dioxide into basalt rock formations deep within the Earth’s surface.
Carbfix’s process involves dissolving carbon dioxide in water and injecting the resulting solution into basalt rock formations. Once in the ground, the dissolved carbon dioxide reacts with minerals in the rock and solidifies into a mineral form, effectively removing it from the atmosphere and locking it up for thousands of years.
In July 2023, oil major ExxonMobil (ticker: XOM) agreed to buy CO2 pipeline operator Denbury for $4.9 billion.
FuelCell Energy (ticker: FCEL) said in August it would extend its carbon capture joint development agreement with an Exxon Mobil unit until March 31 next year. FuelCell has been developing carbonate fuel cells to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from industry and electricity sources in exchange for the oil major’s fees. Unlike other conventional batteries, carbonate fuel cells capture carbon dioxide and generate additional electricity in the process.
Progress in relevant countries
Denmark has opened the world’s first international carbon sequestration facility in March 2023. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is still in its infancy and the cost is high. There are currently about 30 projects in operation or development in Europe. Injecting CO2 into a depleted oil reservoir in the North Sea, but unlike other CO2 stored in nearby industrial sites, Denmark also accepts emissions from other countries.
The Danish carbon sequestration plan is to capture carbon dioxide at the source, liquefy it at the factory of Ineos, a British chemical company in Belgium, and then transport it to the Danish storage facility by ship and pipeline, and then directly transport carbon dioxide from various countries to Denmark , without passing through Belgium. The goal of the Danish government is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, and carbon sequestration is one of the means. However, since Denmark’s storage potential is much greater than its own emissions, it can store carbon from other countries.
According to a CCTV news report in June 2023, China’s first million-ton offshore carbon sequestration demonstration project──Enping 15-1 Oil Tank Carbon Sequestration Demonstration Project will be held in the Pearl River Estuary on June 1, 2023 Officially put into use. This symbolizes that China has initially formed a complete set of drilling and completion technology and equipment system for offshore carbon dioxide injection, sequestration and monitoring.
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