Capturing Carbon is Going Global

There’s a global movement gaining strength to capture carbon around the world.

Having engaged in the act of sequestration -- removing, separating or seizing it -- the carbon is then stored.

Carbon dioxide is captured and hidden away for an eternity. It may seem like an elaborate effort to separate the carbon, but this procedure should have many beneficial applications. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) estimates that CO2 emissions must be reduced by 50 to 80 percent by 2050 to offset global warming.

The International Energy Agency said that fossil fuels will be part of the energy mix until at least 2030. When applied in and around an oil field, the process of CCS -- as its known -- actually functions to enhance oil recovery, while helping clean the air we breathe.

“OPEC believes that it is indeed important to protect the environment, while ensuring economic growth and social progress, especially for the poorest,” OPEC Secretary General, Abdalla Salem El Badri said.

“As fossil fuels will continue to satisfy the lion’s share of world energy needs, OPEC recognizes the importance of cleaner fossil-fuel technologies, and in particular the technology of carbon capture and storage,” El Badri said.

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Algeria is one of the places there is a successful capture and storage project. Sleipner in Norway and Weyburn in Canada are also in operation.

The In-Salah plant lies in a remote spot in the central Saharan desert. It’s a joint venture between the national energy company Sonatrach, BP and Norway’s StatoilHydro.

The president of In Salah Gas, Michael Mossman, said they have found a duel purpose in carbon capture. European regulations demand gas at a lower CO2 specification and the gas at In Salah varied from 1 to 9 percent CO2 content.

“We removed the carbon and we’ve found a place to store it and we’re contributing to a cleaner environment,” Mossman said.

Dense CO2 can be captured and buried more than a thousand metres below the earth’s surface, either in the ocean bed or in deep rock formations. Most of the carbon will be taken out of the atmosphere for centuries.

The oil rich countries of the Middle East are working closely on an international governmental level to develop and refine carbon capture. Masdar in Abu Dhabi intends to develop CO2 capture from industrial facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and deliver to oil field operators for enhanced oil recovery. The Saudi Arabia Government is also working on research and development.