With MENA Climate Week unfolding in Riyadh and the imminent COP28 meeting in the UAE, the spotlight is undoubtedly on carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Regional energy producers are gearing up to showcase their commitment to providing low-to-no carbon energy and products through the deployment of CCUS technology.
In recent years, CCUS has garnered increased attention as our understanding of energy demand and technical limitations has evolved. Supply chain challenges linked to critical minerals, the costs associated with transitioning our economies and infrastructure toward full electrification, and various other factors underscore the prolonged necessity of hydrocarbons in our energy mix for a smooth transition. Consequently, responsible handling of hydrocarbons becomes imperative to mitigate associated emissions.
In the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, where economic resilience plans are in motion to diversify into non-hydrocarbon sectors, there is a strong incentive for regional players to make CCUS a success. While efforts are underway to shift away from hydrocarbons, there is an acknowledgment that these revenue streams can be made resilient by meeting the needs of future consumers.
This drive from regional players, coupled with the global inclusion of more CCUS in national emissions targets, accentuates the importance of tangible CCUS benefits. The GCC, with its advantageous position, is well-equipped to deliver on these expectations.
The initial consideration in the CCUS process is storage and utilization. Capturing carbon dioxide becomes futile without an adequate storage solution. Fortunately, the GCC boasts abundant oil and gas reservoirs, secure for long-term sequestration due to limited access through manmade wells.
Additionally, the vast aquifers, projected to be up to 10 times the size of reservoir storage, present a significant opportunity for decarbonizing global energy demand. This, along with the economic diversification efforts holds the opportunity to build carbon-reduced and utilizing industries.
The second consideration revolves around capture, where size matters. The GCC is known for undertaking larger projects compared to the rest of the world, spanning petrochemicals, refineries, industrial developments, power plants, and more.
This tendency is driven by economies of scale, where doubling the capacity of a project is more cost-effective than building two identical ones. This economic advantage extends to carbon capture, as fewer and larger point sources of emissions, combined with relatively lower energy costs, position the GCC favorably on a global scale.
The third consideration delves into the opportunities presented by CCUS. Beyond emissions reduction, CCUS enables the deployment of alternative fuels like hydrogen and ammonia on a large scale, revolutionizing the energy landscape. These alternative fuels open avenues for sustainable energy solutions, aligning with global efforts to transition towards cleaner energy sources.
In conclusion, as the GCC takes center stage in championing CCUS, it is essential to recognize that serving future consumer demand for cleaner energy will also require robust customer support. Implementing and sustaining CCUS initiatives will not only contribute to global emissions reduction but also pave the way for innovative and sustainable energy solutions. It is a holistic approach that acknowledges the dynamic interplay between technological advancements, economic considerations, and environmental stewardship.
This article appeared on Arab News