GHGT-16: Day 2 Technical Plenary: TotalEnergies & US DOE

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By Nicola Clarke

25 October 2022

The second day of GHGT-16 started with a Technical Plenary introduced by Florence Delprat-Jannaud of ClubCO2. The first speaker was Christine Healy, Senior VP, Carbon Neutrality and Continental Europe, and member of the EP Executive Committee (CDEP) for TotalEnergies.

Christine began by stressing how carbon neutrality and CCS is critically important and how vital it is to deliver projects on time, on budget and safely. Impressing the importance of working together towards that goal. Recognising that there is an environmental consequence and cost of delivering global energy requirements, and CCS is a key part of that remit.

As a company TotalEnergies has a vision to achieve net zero by 2050, continuing their historical involvement in oil and gas but recognising that this will just be a part of the mix going forward. The corporate strategy is for 50% renewables, 25% new molecules and 25% oil and gas. Because oil and gas will be part of portfolio, CCS needs to be also considered. With a triple punch strategy of avoid, reduce and compensate. CCS is a solution for both site specific projects and also developing hubs, to take CO2 from customers and store on their behalf. Other goals include to stop routine flaring, improve energy efficiency, and green power (covering all industrial sites power needs with green energy).

To deploy CCS strategy and move forward every project will have to meet highly stringent standards from an emissions perspective – e.g. Papua New Guinea LNG, North Field East and South (Qatar), Ictus (Australia), Cameron LNG (USA). TotalEnergies are offering Carbon Transport and Storage services as a business – and aim to build a profitable, scalable business with the North Sea as core area. Christine recognises that it’s an enormous task. In order to get investment, which is billions and billions of dollars, she stressed that you have to deliver these projects. Make it make sense to the investors. Safely, on time, to budget.

Christine outlined three projects of varying degrees of completion that TotalEnergies are involved in. The Northern Lights, Norway, is a storage opportunity that is very attractive to their customers, it validates that the market exists and it will be able to be developed over time. Aramis, Netherlands is a joint venture for transportations – with storage in depleted fields, and the infrastructure is in good condition, it’s a collaborative effort and they are already looking at Phase 2-4. Lastly the NEP project in the UK with on and offshore infrastructure – and storage in the Endurance field.

Lastly, Christine spoke of an issue that she is asked about all the time. ‘What are the policy drivers that need to be in place to drive CCS forward?’ She explained that as investors we need predictability and stability, especially with projects with durations of 20 years and the post-injection monitoring phase. As it’s a long cycle, there is a need to convince investors to take risks over the long term and that requires stability. The real issue is that once the policy is put in place, it’s important that this stays consistent. Otherwise, it’s difficult to make decisions – or it makes us conservative which is tricky when the industry is at its infancy. It’s apparent that clear business models will emerge with time from the variety of models at present. Christine wrapped up by recognising that we are at an inflection point and a future of CCS is before us.

Dr Jennifer Wilcox is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management at US DOE. She introduced the role of carbon management in achieving net zero goals. She started at the DOE under the Biden-Harris administration. The department of Fossil Energy just recently added Carbon Management to its title, and this is intentional to the direction of travel with a new vision of: 50% emissions reduction by 2030; CO2 emissions-free power sector by 2035; and net zero emissions economy by no late than 2050. New legislation including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has allocated $12 billion for carbon management – laying the groundwork. Helping to set up first of a kind projects and learning by doing. But to get the rest of the way we need investment to make it economic. Secondly, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was established and includes the 45Q federal tax credit for carbon removals. These offer two levers – infrastructure plus policy – which are critical to move forward.

Jennifer outlined the three areas of particular focus: reducing emissions and taking CO2 out of atmosphere and storing it; recognising that retrofitting will require more fossil fuels and it’s important to make sure there are tools to mitigate extra methane from fuels; and lastly but equally as important is justice both environmental and societal. The Bipartisan infrastructure law comes with strings attached. The DOE are good at investing in technology, but need to work on societal impacts. The community benefits plan represents 20% of the score of each application with four key priorities: stakeholder engagement, understanding the concerns and acting on those concerns; diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, vital in recruitment; Justice 40 Initiative with 40% benefit to disadvantage communities; and quality jobs. These four will be part of every application.

Jennifer recognised that public perception is important and although CCS is not new the public perception is that it is, despite 20+years of DOE research and 12 MtCO2 permanently stored. There are lots of mixed messages, that requires a clear message especially where it comes to environmental safety record and regulations that are rigorous.

Lastly, Jennifer outlined some of the details of the BIL and IRA, the BIL includes $12 billion over 5 years. This will fund at least 6 carbon capture demonstration projects, several new small scale pilot projects, four direct air capture hubs, and pipelines. The IRA sets out the new 45Q tax credits with $85/tCO2 allocated for point source capture and $180/tCO2 for direct air capture, coupled to geologic storage. Jennifer reiterated that there is a distinction between point source capture and CO2 removal with different energy requirements and land footprints and that we should use the appropriate technology where possible – reserving CDR for the hard to abate sectors only. The key is that investment is required in both today – to reach our goals. Lastly, Jennifer stressed the need to continue to invest in R&D and mentioned both Carbon Negative Shot, which encompasses all approaches includes nature based and Hydrogen Shot. A new department (December 2021) has been established to have oversite for the project management of these initiatives, the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) new office. 

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