Invest in carbon capture - or go the way of the coal industry!

Jun 30 2017

Today, the coal industry, and coal power, is gradually being obliterated by regulation in many countries. But if the coal industry had got involved in carbon capture and storage 10 years ago, this might not have happened.

Could the same fate be in store for the oil industry?

These were some thoughts from Jeff Chapman, who founded the UK’s Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) in 2006, and spent a few years trying to get the coal industry involved, which he shared at the CCSA’s annual reception at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.
Also at the event, Gardiner Hill, ‎director of climate change and sustainability technology at BP, said that one of the priorities of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) is to develop a “commercial mechanism to enable rollout of CCS”.  The commercial mechanism outlined above might be the most effective one, but that’s probably not what he has in mind!

OGCI was first announced in October 2014, and includes 10 oil companies - BP, CNPC, Eni, Pemex, Reliance Industries, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil and Total. They promise to invest $1bn in climate initiatives over 10 years. This is only $10m per company per year, not much for the world's largest companies. But Mr Hill believes it should have big multiplier effects. Another objective is to develop a standard way to describe CO2 storage facilties, along similar lines to the way oil and gas reservoirs are described.
The CCSA has now appointed Baroness (Helen) Lidell, a former secretary of state for Scotland under Tony Blair, as its honorary president. She told delegates that Lord Oxburgh, the outgoing honorary president, was perhaps “too much of a gentleman” and she plans to get “niggly” with the government.
One delegate from a European country, speaking off the record, said that his country believes the most energy it can ever make from renewables is 55 per cent. So, in preparation for a zero carbon era, it is looking at making the rest of its electricity from gas with CCS. He said it can be easier to do CCS on gas than coal, because there is no ash and usually less SO2.
Also at the event, Trude Sundset of Gassnova, the Norwegian state enterprise for carbon capture and storage, said that Norway is developing a bigger storage site than it needs for its own emissions, and so it is keen to find customers from other countries. In order words, the UK will be welcome to do business with Norway, sending our CO2 by ship to Norway’s storage site.

Meanwhile, the UK government has about 6 staff members working full time on carbon capture, and there is always hope that funding for a big project will be announced, but nothing much happening right now. That's sad, when you consider that a couple of years ago, the UK was about to have its first end to end carbon capture and storage projects approved, and the beginning of an industry. Now, the most we can do is send our CO2 to Norway.  Some more progress would be very welcome.


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Issue 63 - May - June 2018

The Oil & Gas Issue: CCS is back on the EU agenda and the oil & gas industry can help .. Industrial CO2 capture: the case of LNG plants .. ACT Acorn full-chain integrated project Hazelwood pilot - a new CO2 absorber offers cost reductions .. Offshor.....

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