25 April 2021

Chem Chat

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has announced its intention to enter into partnerships with technological frontrunners in the field of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS). According to the company’s CEO, such technologies will comprise a central component of any strategy to achieve the nation’s climate goals in the coming years.

Although the UAE is planning to diversify both its economic and energy profiles going forwards, the country still relies heavily on revenues generated by the oil industry for its financial stability. As such, incorporating CCUS techniques into existing energy production facilities is being viewed as an important stepping-stone towards curbing its carbon footprint.

How does CCUS work?

In order to generate energy, fossil fuel power stations rely on the combustion of oil, coal and gas. At the point of combustion, the hydrocarbons which form the basis of these fossil fuels are broken down into their constituent parts and harmful greenhouses gases – including CO2 – are released into the atmosphere.

CCUS attempts to mitigate the negative impacts of this phenomenon by sucking the carbon from the emissions streams and storing it in a safe place. The idea of CCUS is a fairly recent one, with scientific experts still investigating the far-reaching consequences of the practice, but the technology does already exist.

Building upon strong foundations

Indeed, ADNOC already has CCUS equipment in place at its Al Reyadah facility in Abu Dhabi, where the hardware is capable of capturing up to 800,000 tonnes of carbon on a yearly basis. It is hoping to increase that capacity in incremental phases, eventually removing five million tonnes annually by 2030.

To help achieve that goal, ADNOC has penned a deal with French company Total to collaborate on methods of reducing carbon emissions, partly via CCUS. The company CEO Sultan Al Jaber, who also serves as the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, indicated that the Total partnership would be just the first of several as his company look to expand their knowledge and expertise.

An optimistic outlook

Al Jaber was also optimistic about the resurgence of the oil industry in the year ahead. After a difficult 2020, in which the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic saw prices tumble below zero, it now appears as though the demand for oil is on the mend – and the economy with it.

“Global consumption is currently around 95 million barrels per day and we expect it to rise above pre-Covid levels by the end of this year,” explained Al Jaber. At the peak of lockdown restrictions, oil demand languished at less than 75 million barrels per day, but with the rollout of vaccines across the globe and the slow reopening of industries and economies, there are plenty of reasons to be confident that a turning point has been reached. .

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