Well, now we know why Saudi Arabia held out for Carbon Capture & Storage to be eligible for CDM funding at Cancun. Sequestering CO2 in the ground is being looked at by three Middle Eastern countries, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE that lead the world in production of greenhouse gases from oil production.
According to a study conducted by Australia’s Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Institute, there are currently 243 CCS projects in development worldwide, of which only 85 are large scale. Carbon Capture and Storage is a promising technology that could reduce the damage done to the climate by the mining and use of fossil fuels. But it is a very new and untested technology. As yet, only eight large-scale CCS projects are actually in operation.
CCS makes sense for an oil company from a business point of view. It can boost the production of dying oil fields with CO2 injection, or prevent the waste of energy in an energy-hungry region, by flaring natural gas.
But despite being rich in oil – the one substance the entire world is dependent on – the nations involved are all looking for the world to pay for the projects, through Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) financing, whereby developed countries pay for projects in the developing world that reduce greenhouse gases.
The kingdom is seriously looking into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), according to Bloomberg. Aramco will pump 40 million cubic feet a day, at a cost of $340m from two gas-processing plants into a section of Ghawar, the oil field that produces about 5 million barrels of crude a day on average. Saudi Aramco has planned and designed the carbon-dioxide capture facility and transport system and has starting building it, al Ashgar said today. If the pilot project succeeds, the entire oil field will be utilized for CCS.
Injecting CO2 into oil fields kills two birds with one stone. It helps ease out the last drops of oil. It also reduces greenhouse gases. Fair enough. But is the richest country in the world eligible for CDM funding as a “developing” country?
Kuwait is beginning its first project to capture 450 tons of carbon dioxide daily from its existing facilities starting 2012, following a pilot project that has proved the concept is feasible. And it is looking for CDM funding. “This will be the first project that Kuwait could rely on in claiming credits as part of the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism,” Hamad al Terkait, chief executive officer of Equate, told reporters at Arabian Business.
Abu Dhabi has already been in the forefront of green tech applied to the oil industry. For example it plans to compost its oil industry wastes. But the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co plans to inject 1,750 tons a day of CO2, following a successful pilot project injecting 60 tons a day of carbon dioxide in the Rumaitha field, according to Arabian Business.
Simultaneously, the oil company is also looking at ways to reduce energy waste. Currently it flares 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily. Now, with soaring power and industrial demand at home, it is looking into capturing 40 percent of that formerly wasted energy.
But, because stopping the flaring of gas to the atmosphere reduces greenhouse gases, this is also a CCS project, and thus eligible for CDM funding.