ExxonMobil has put forward a suggested $100 billion carbon capture joint venture between public and private entities, that can extract CO2 emissions from the US petrochemical industry and sequester them underground.
This is the first large scale and for-profit project that has been put forward into the public domain. The plan maps out the ways in which government legislation, through carbon emission taxes and private companies can cooperate to reduce the amount of CO2 released in the atmosphere.
Exxon already has the technical expertise to capture carbon, but this has been injected into existing oil and gas fields to pump out the remaining natural resources that were hard to reach. That technical know-how would be put to use in a different way here. The carbon would be pumped into offshore and onshore locations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Joe Blommaert, president of Exxon’s Low Carbon Solutions business, described the project’s goals: “We could create an economy of scale where we can reduce the cost of carbon dioxide mitigation, create jobs and reduce emissions”.
The company has been contacting potential partners both from the refining and chemicals sectors. According to Exxon’s spokesperson Casey Norton, investors, banks and government officials have been receptive.
If successfully deployed, the project is expected to capture and store underground 50 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030. The capacity could double by 2040. Houston is eyed as the place to develop the carbon capture hub. It has a large concentration of carbon-emitting industry players.
ExxonMobil Carbon Capture Investment Initiatives
The company also announced in February that it will be investing $3 billion in new carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects over the next 5 years. According to Exxon, carbon capture will be a $2 trillion market by 2040 and it seems to be pressing towards gaining a share. Furthermore, it has been a supporter of the carbon tax and the US rejoining the Paris Agreement.
The $100 billion carbon capture hub suggested by ExxonMobil could help the industry achieve economies of scale for CCS. The oil and gas industry that is under a lot of pressure to adapt, needs such large-scale investments and policy support from the government to secure an easier transition towards clean energy technologies.