GHGT-16 Technical Plenary 2, Wednesday 26th October 2022


By James Craig

15 November 2022

Two high profile CCS champions, Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive, CCSA and Matt Crocker, Senior Vice President of Low Carbon Solutions ExxonMobil gave different perspectives of the considerable scale-up in the technology. This second of GHGT-16’s Technical Plenary, was chaired by IEAGHG’s General Manager, Tim Dixon.

Ruth’s presentation entitled “UK Development – Clusters & Business Models” outlined the UK’s ambitious plans, published in “Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener”, October 2021, to develop a series of CCS hubs.The strategy has set out a plan to capture 20-30 Mt CO2 by 2030 rising to over 50 Mt CO2 by 2035.There is a commitment to develop four CCUS clusters with at least two operating by the mid-2020s and storing 53Mt/yr by 2035. There is a CCS Infrastructure Fund now totalling £1B plus an interim goal of 1 GW of CCUS-enabled hydrogen by 2025 aided by a £240 M Net Zero Hydrogen Fund.The initiative forms part of UK’s target to reduce GHG by 78% by 2035.Current progress by 2022 shows that these plans are now a year behind.

There are five key coastal locations around the UK that are well suited to industrial CCUS hub development where there are clusters of large concentrations of industrial CO2 emissions from oil and gas (O&G), petrochemicals, steel and power plants. Two clusters, HyNet, which will have access to geological storage offshore in Liverpool Bay, and East CO2Ast Cluster off east coast, have reached Track 1 stage. The Scottish Cluster in north-east Scotland is a Track 1 reserve. Storage capacity in both depleted O&G fields and saline aquifers is already advanced. In September 2022 a Carbon Storage licensing round attached 26 bids. Licenses will be awarded in 2023 with first injection as early as 2027.Storage rates as high as 30 Mt a year by 2030 could be achieved. There are parallel developments in investment models and a Dispatchable Power Agreement (DPA) for power linked with CCS. An Industrial Carbon Capture (ICC) contract over 15 years would be set up for individual projects. Government co-funding would be available for initial projects. There is an intention to reduce subsidies as carbon prices rise and low-carbon product markets emerge. Carbon capture offered by a service company is also envisaged. A contract-for-difference (CfD) scheme is planned for hydrogen production based on a natural gas reference price. For BECCS and DACCS CCSA a negative emissions payment mechanism is envisage to enable early projects, which, over time, will move to a Carbon CfD.Ruth concluded that targets will only be met if all capture commitments now emplaced to meet the 2035 target progress. Although there is some uncertainty in these plans the UK does have a successful track record from the development of offshore wind since 2012.The lessons learnt from this experience are invaluable for CCS.

The second half of the plenary took the format of an armchair discussion between Matt Crocker and Tim Dixon. Matt, who went to school in Cheltenham, the home of IEAGHG, has been with ExxonMobil for 27 years. Having worked on both up and downstream businesses in chemicals, Matt now heads the company’s low-carbon solutions business.

Tim prompted the question why did ExxonMobil set up a low-carbon solutions business in 2021.In reply Matt stressed that it was part of the company’s commitment to NetZero by 2050. This shift in direction will lead to the production of low carbon hydrogen and low emission fuels. It will need a $US15B investment into low carbon products. One good reason for the policy is that CCS is proven and scalable especially for hard to abate sectors like cement and steel.

ExxonMobil is in the process of developing a new project in Louisiana, USA. It will be based on a first-of-a-kind (FOAK) commercial contract with CF Industries who are a fertilizer manufacture that produces ammonia and 2Mt of CO2 a year. ExxonMobil will capture, transport and store CO2 in an onshore site in south-west part of the state which should be operational by 2025.Subsequent storage could go offshore.

Potential for CCS expansion along the Gulf coast is immense. The Houston area, for example, has a high concentration of industrial CO2 emissions. By 2040 100Mt/yr could be captured and stored. Hub development would be a series of projects, for example, around ExxonMobil’s Bay Town complex, which is one of the world’s largest industrial conglomerations. Multiple storage sites will be necessary given the shear scale of emissions.

ExxonMobil also have a stake in five western European petrochemical and refining operations including Normandy (France), Antwerp (Belgium), Porthos (The Netherlands), Acorn (Scotland) and at the Fawley Refinery near Southampton, UK. In the Asia Pacific region, ExxonMobil have interests in depleted O&G fields, in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and with a Chinese consortium.

Big multinationals, like ExxonMobil, have set clear and ambitious targets for achieving low-carbon emission targets via CCS. They have the means and skill to reach these goals. Similarly with targeted government support in the UK there is very significant potential to achieve genuine and permanent carbon emission reduction using offshore storage.

Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive of CCSA, at GHGT-16 Tim Dixon, IEAGHG General Manager and Matt Crocker, Senior Vice President of Low Carbon Solutions, ExxonMobil at GHGT-16.

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