SPE International Executive Symposium: Accelerating Decarbonisation Deployment through Innovation and Collaboration


By Keith Burnard

19 September 2023

On 6–7 September 2023, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) held an international symposium at the Abu Dhabi Energy Centre, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Entitled “Accelerating Decarbonisation Deployment through Innovation and Collaboration”, the event focused predominantly on CCUS and CDR. The format of the two-day symposium was centred around panel sessions and presentation-based technical sessions.

While dominated by domestic and international energy companies either based in or with a presence in the UAE, a significant number of participants came from organisations located farther afield. Outside of the symposium, several exhibitors attended stands focusing on technologies and services relating to CCUS/CDR technologies.

As BP’s representative on the IEAGHG Executive Committee and a member of the symposium’s organising committee, Simon Shoulder felt an invitation to IEAGHG would be a good fit for the event. Consequently, Keith Burnard gave a presentation entitled “Assessment of small-scale carbon capture for industrial and power systems” during one of the technical sessions. 

Prominent in the symposium was the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). With the UAE due to host COP28 later this year, the country has committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual level. In line with this pledge, ADNOC has put in place ambitious emissions reduction plans and has committed to reduce its carbon intensity by 25% by 2030 as an interim goal towards its objective of net zero by 2050. ADNOC already realises 100% of its grid power supply from nuclear and solar energy sources, making it the first major oil and gas company to do so. It operates the region’s first commercial-scale CCUS facility, with the capacity to capture 800,000 tonnes of CO₂ per annum from its iron and steel plant at Al-Reyadah. It plans to expand its CO₂ capture capacity to around 5 MT per annum by 2030. At the symposium, ADNOC announced that it had taken a final investment decision on the Habshan CCUS project, which will have the capacity to capture and permanently store 1.5 MT CO₂ per annum from a natural gas processing plant. The CO2 captured at Habshan will most likely be used for CO2-EOR. ADNOC has also completed drilling on a carbonate saline aquifer, where it plans to permanently store CO2 captured from a low-carbon ammonia production facility.

Besides BP’s Simon Shoulder, other members of IEAGHG’s Executive Committee present at the symposium included PDO’s Nabil Al Bulushi and Baker Hughes’s Alex Cruz.

Nabil presented a very impressive list of initiatives that Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) had either underway or in planning, all initiatives that were consistent with measures identified by the Sultanate of Oman in its commitment to achieve et zero emissions by 2050. According to the Sultanate, technologies to decarbonise industrial and/or power processes would include both CCS and the adoption of negative-emission solutions such as DACS – with storage, e.g., in depleted reservoirs.

On a panel session discussing “Decarbonising Hard-to-Abate Industries: Enabling Low Carbon Policies and Technological Solutions”, Alex described very proficiently the challenges and potential solutions, and the critical role of effective collaboration between the various actors in the process – policymakers, industry leaders and technology providers. 

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