Going, going ... green!

CCUS: ExxonMobil and Global Thermostat, DoE Lafarge-Holcim, Petra Nova closes, Petrofac FEED for Acorn CCS, IEA report on CCUS, Global CCS Institute updates CORE database, Alberta Carbon Trunk Line operational. Monitoring: Rocky Mountain Institute and Spherical Analytics developed blockchain ‘Climate Action Engine’, Gaffney-Cline on Permian flaring, Kairos Aerospace monitors DCP Midstream emissions, Veritas to monitor Shell’s leaks, AER explainer for flaring/emissions monitoring. Outlook/Transition: DNV GL on (slow) decarbonization progress and ‘transition faster hub’, EU on carbon neutrality, Stanford – methane ‘soars’ to record high, Geolsoc on geoscience and decarbonization. Hydrogen: Hydrogen Europe on FCH-JU, Gaffney Cline’s Focus on Blue Hydrogen. Consortia: ‘Coalition for a Better Business Environment’, ‘Coalition for the energy of the future’. Other: Fleetcor cards offset tailpipe emissions, Intertek’s ‘CarbonClear’ certification, CleanDesign Power Systems electric power for drilling rigs, BluEnergy consultancy launched, Puro.earth’s business model for CO2 removal, DNV GL approves Shell’s Cansolv CO2 removal technology, NPD updates Power from the shore report, PIDX ETDX.

Carbon capture

ExxonMobil has expanded its agreement with direct air CO2 capture specialist Global Thermostat following a year-long technology evaluation. Global Thermostat uses proprietary amine-based adsorbents to remove CO2 from the air which is then ‘stored underground, used to make chemicals, consumer products or construction materials’.

The US Department of Energy has awarded $1.5 million to Lafarge-Holcim’s CO2ment project in Florence, CO. CO2ment captures CO2 (a byproduct or cement making) from flue gasses using Svante’s technology. What happens to the CO2 is not clear, although another company, Solida Technology claims to turn cement into a carbon sink. Total and Oxy are involved in the CO2ment.

Houston Chron FuelFix editor Brian Rausch reports that NRG Energy’s Petra Nova CO2 sequestration project has shut down. Its economics ‘no longer make sense with oil prices hovering around $40 a barrel’.

Petrofac’s Engineering and Production Services business has been awarded an Engineering and Project Management Office support contract for the Acorn project. The works cover FEED for the Acorn CCS project and concept selection for Acorn Hydrogen. Both projects are planned for the St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead, Scotland.

The International Energy Agency’s new ‘Special Report on Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage: CCUS in clean energy transitions’ is a 174-page analysis of the state of the art of CO2 capture and sequestration. CCUS is said to be ‘the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 to balance emissions that cannot be avoided’. Although there are some 20 commercial CCUS operations worldwide, this is ‘nowhere near the amount required to put global emissions on a sustainable path’. Pre-covid there were plans for 30 more 30 commercial facilities, but their fate is moot today. In all events, ‘reaching net zero will be virtually impossible without CCUS. IEA Director Fatih Birol stated ‘There is a stark disconnect today between the climate goals that governments and companies have set for themselves and the current state of affordable and reliable energy technologies that can realize these goals’. The CCUS report is a part of the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 series.

On a slightly more positive note, the Global CCS Institute has added ten carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities to its global database, bringing the total number of CCS facilities in various stages of development to 59 with a capture capacity of more than 127 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). There are now 21 facilities in operation, three under construction, and 35 in various stages of development. For more, visit the CO2RE Database and read the GCCSI’s ‘Value of CCS’ report for 2020.

A refinery and fertilizer plant are now connected to the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line. The ACTL will initially move 1.6 million tonnes of CO2/year with a 14.6 MTPA expansion capacity.


The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, in partnership with Spherical Analytics has developed the ‘Climate Action Engine’, a data and analytics platform to monitor Permian Basin greenhouse gas emissions. The CAE is built on Immutably, Spherical Analytics' blockchain-based ‘enterprise data fabric platform’. Operators including Shell, Origin Energy, ExxonMobil and Chevron are to ‘shape’ the CAE’s outputs and use cases to help identify opportunities to reduce methane emissions.

An analysis of flaring is available in a study from Gaffney-Cline’s carbon management practice. Many Permian producers are consistently ‘best-in-class’ with flaring intensity of around 2% (basin average is 4%). However, flaring can be aggravated due to malfunctioning and unlit flares. Increased scrutiny of incomplete flare combustion and venting is warranted as the warming potential of methane is approximately 84 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. The Permian Methane Analysis Project survey by the Environmental Defense Fund found 11% of flares were either unlit or malfunctioning. In response, the Texas Railroad Commission has formed the Texas Methane and Flaring Commission and is recommending changes to the current regulatory regime.

DCP Midstream is now monitoring emissions from its portfolio of natural gas assets with Kairos Aerospace’s airborne methane monitoring techniques and advanced analytics.

Shell has awarded Bureau Veritas a global framework agreement for the use of its Leak Detection and Repair solution to measure and control emissions. The Veritas Ldar solution includes optical gas imaging, laser and ultrasonic technologies and inspection drones.

The Alberta Energy Regulator has produced a video explainer covering its Directive 060: Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring, Incinerating, and Venting and Directive 017: Measurement Requirements for Oil and Gas Operations. The AER also does a polite RTFM, with a pointer to Manual 015: Estimating Methane Emissions, and Manual 011: How to Submit Volumetric Data to the AER.


The latest Energy Transition Outlook from DNV GL holds that ‘deep decarbonization’ of the world’s energy system is ‘still 15 years away’. While decarbonization is ‘rising rapidly up the agenda’ of industry and governments, but ‘not at the pace or depth required to meet the Paris Agreement’. The oil and gas industry is set to reduce its carbon emissions by 32% by 2050, but world emissions will remain stubbornly high until the mid-2030s. Hydrogen and CCS are seen as key to decarbonization after 2035, if ‘incentivized by policy’.

DNV GL Energy CEO Ditlev Engel unveiled the ‘Transition Faster Hub’ warning that, ‘Global warming will have catastrophic consequences for humanity. Five years on from the Paris Agreement we have not made the progress required to deliver this. Technology, policy and societal change have the power to create a clean energy future, but we need to go faster, much faster’. DNV GL’s industry information source showcases best-in class projects, technology, innovation and solutions, as well as thought leadership reports, podcasts and news on ‘accelerating the transition’.

The EU Commission has published a ‘Communication’, Powering a climate-neutral economy: An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration, a 22-page explanation of how the EU is to achieve ‘climate neutrality’ by 2050, through the ‘deep decarbonization’ of all sectors of the economy.

A paper* titled The Global Methane Budget 2000–2017 by researchers from Stanford University’s Global Carbon Project found that global methane emissions have ‘soared to a record high’. While the pandemic has reduced CO2 emissions, methane emissions continue to climb, ‘dragging the world further away from a path that skirts the worst effects of global warming’. Increases are being driven primarily by the growth of emissions from coal mining, oil and natural gas production, cattle and sheep ranching, and landfills. More from Stanford.

An open access paper from the London Geological Society titled ‘Geoscience and decarbonization: current status and future directions*’ reviews the role that geoscience and the subsurface could play in decarbonizing electricity production, industry, transport and heating to meet climate change targets. The paper is based on presentations made at the Geolsoc’s 2019 Bryan Lovell meeting.


Hydrogen Europe has produced ‘Clean Hydrogen for Europe’, a 157 page ‘strategic research and innovation agenda (SRIA) of the clean hydrogen for Europe partnership’. Hydrogen is a solution ‘without which Europe cannot achieve its 2050 goals on GHG emissions reduction’. The report provides a background on EU research notably the fuel cell and hydrogen joint undertaking or ‘FCH-JU’ as the EU-acronym speak has it.

Gaffney Cline’s Focus on Blue Hydrogen promotes the merits of ‘Blue Hydrogen’, i.e. obtained from reforming methane in the energy transition. Hydrogen’s promise stems from its potential use as an energy vector rather than as a primary energy source. Hydrogen can be added to natural gas to reduce carbon content, it can be used in fuel cells, a feedstock for industry, or as a ‘battery’ to store excess renewable energy.


Fleetcor has introduced a US Fleet Card offering ‘100% tailpipe emissions offset’. The company has teamed with enviro-tech specialist GreenPrint to launch the Fuelman Clean Advantage fleet card. When a user fills-up, 100% of future emissions are offset through investments in ‘independently certified carbon projects’.

Intertek has launched ‘CarbonClear’ a certification program that independently verifies the per barrel carbon of produced oil.

CleanDesign Power Systems has developed a hybrid power management system for oil and gas drilling rigs that uses Lavle’s Proteus lithium-ion battery. The system is claimed to reduce fuel consumption, lower emissions and cut power-related downtime.

Hamish Wilson, Bill Senior, Tony Smith, Martin Dru and Sarah Milne have collectively launched BluEnergy. The consultancy sets out to help oil and gas companies leverage their existing asset base to create low carbon energy streams, generating value and reducing carbon intensity.

Finnish Puro.earth has announced a ‘proven’ carbon transformation business model for CO2 removal with the potential to remove 10 Gigatons of CO2 a year by 2050, equivalent to half of global emissions cuts required to hit net zero. The DNV GL-verified process involves the trade of CO2 removal certificates, ‘matching companies that lock away CO2 in environmentally sound processes with companies that have pledged to get to neutral emissions’. TietoEvry is a client.

DNV GL has approved Shell’s Cansolv CO2 removal technology for use in a ‘full-scale demonstration’ project at Fortum’s waste-to-energy plant in Oslo, Norway. Qualification verified application of DNV GL’s recommended practices; DNVGL-RP-A203 and DNVGL-RP-J201.

An update on the NPD’s 2008 Power from the shore report has it that almost half of Norway’s oil production will soon be run on power from shore. Currently, eight NCS fields shelf receive power from the Norwegian grid. Decisions have been taken on a further eight with a further six approaching FID. Cost of the mitigated emissions is estimated at under NOK 1500 ($163) per tonne of CO2.

PIDX International has formalized its Emissions Transparency Data Exchange (ETDX) initiative with the aim of developing the energy transition standards for data exchange regarding carbon emissions and other energy transition-type needs that are designed to be harmonized across industry participants. ETDX will cover data formats and APIs for upstream, midstream and downstream.

Promises, promises…

BP and others have formed the Coalition for a Better Business Environment to encourage US East Coast states to enact the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a regional carbon pricing policy designed to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

Shell* and Microsoft are ‘embarking on a strategic alliance to progress towards a world with net-zero emissions’. The alliance sees Shell will supply Microsoft with renewable energy, (Microsoft plans to be 100% renewable by 2025) and the companies continue to work on artificial intelligence that has ‘already driven transformation across Shell’s operations’, ‘delivering efficiencies that have helped reduce Shell’s carbon emissions’. Shell is also to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing system to strengthen operational safety, by improving risk analysis, prediction and prevention.

* BP has made a similar announcement with Microsoft.

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) has announced a new target for the reduction of its members’ carbon intensity. The target for upstream oil and gas operations is now for ‘between 20 kg and 21 kg CO2e/boe by 2025’, down from 23 kg CO2e/boe in 2017. The target covers both CO2 and methane emissions from exploration and production. OGCI members include BP, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell and Total.

The Environmental Partnership has just published its Annual Report 2020 subtitled ‘Improving the oil and natural gas industry’s environmental performance’. The 38-page document summarizes TEP’s programs, notably an expansion into the midstream segment, and provides data highlights for 2019 along with a Focus on Flaring. This chapter is more of a justification for flaring than a program for environmental enhancement. TEP is backed by the American Petroleum Institute. Greenpeace it is not!

Total has joined with ten other diversified French companies to form the ‘Coalition for the energy of the future’, engaging in ‘nine concrete projects for developing energy solutions to accelerate the energy transition in transport and logistics’. Projects include the use of hydrogen and biofuels in the transport sector and the development of a ‘digital door-to-door route planning system*’ to minimize environmental impact. The Coalition’s initial findings will be officially presented in January 2021 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

* The Coalition’s digital folks may not have noticed but the ‘travelling salesman problem’ is one of the earliest (solved) problems in computing.

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