CCUS

Thursday, 08/04/2022

As a piece of legislation makes its way through Congress, the name it’s given can say a lot about its overall importance and what it intends to accomplish, but also a little bit about the current political environment. Surging inflation has been one of the biggest stories of the past year and politicians of all stripes have been looking for ways to ease the pressure on consumers. Those concerns were a big reason why the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which included several climate- and energy-related measures, ultimately died in Congress late last year. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which Democrats in Washington hope to pass soon, embraces the fight against inflation and includes other significant provisions, but clean energy is at the heart of the bill. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the legislation's climate and clean-energy initiatives — including a methane-reduction program, more tax credits for electric vehicles, and incentives for renewable energy and clean hydrogen — and how they would help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Wednesday, 08/03/2022

It’s one thing if you’re 25 or 30 years old and your 401(k) is just getting started — you’ve got time to build it up, so don’t sweat it — but it’s quite another if you’re 60 or 65 and you’ve still got to sock away a lot of money before calling it quits. It could be argued that the environmental community is facing a quandary very similar to that of an aging boomer short on retirement savings. The fact is that the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) target of achieving net-zero man-made carbon emissions globally by 2050 in order to blunt the human impact on climate change will require massive new investment and a complete and well-coordinated transformation of the world’s energy complex. In the near-term, progress along that path must include an extraordinarily rapid ramp-up in the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). And like an aging worker whose late discipline may be thwarted by an unforeseen health challenge, as we’ve seen with the recent energy crisis, there’s a lot that could derail progress toward those goals. Is the IEA's goal achievable? Maybe. But, as we discuss in today’s RBN blog, it won’t be easy.

Monday, 05/02/2022

Carbon-capture projects have been slow to take root in the U.S., but that may be changing as a number of companies are now advancing plans to capture the carbon dioxide that results from ethanol production in the Midwest. Ethanol plants are an obvious choice, given that the CO2 resulting from ethanol fermentation is highly concentrated, which makes capturing it more efficient (and less expensive) compared to many other industrial processes. But while the relative ease and economy of capturing those emissions might seem like a no-brainer, convincing the public to go along with those plans has been more difficult. In today’s RBN blog, we look at what’s being planned.

Tuesday, 04/12/2022

Much like baling out a flooded basement with a spoon or shoveling the driveway in the middle of a snowstorm, carbon-capture projects to date have had minimal impact at best on the bigger goal of reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. But an ExxonMobil-led project that’s taking shape in and around Houston could soon set a new mark for the scale at which carbon-capture projects operate. The plan calls for capturing, gathering, compressing and sequestering up to 50 million metric tons per annum (MMtpa) of CO2 by 2030, and up to twice that much by 2040 — enough to start making a real dent in Gulf Coast CO2 emissions. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the biggest carbon-capture project currently taking shape: ExxonMobil’s proposed Houston CCS Innovation Zone.

Thursday, 03/17/2022

When U.S. lawmakers introduced the 45Q tax credit in 2008, they were planting a seed they hoped would one day sprout into a flourishing carbon-capture industry. As the years wore on and the number of successful projects remained small, they added a little fertilizer in 2018, not only enhancing the value of the credits but easing some of the limitations in the earlier legislation. It’s now 2022 and, with climate concerns and the energy transition at top of mind, Washington is again looking at ways to make the tax credit more effective and spur new growth in carbon-capture projects. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how economic and technological challenges have so far limited the success of carbon-capture initiatives.

Wednesday, 02/09/2022

Not so long ago, most folks in the energy industry hardly gave carbon dioxide (CO2) a thought. Sure, some CO2 was used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and in some production areas the natural gas coming out of the ground had to be treated to remove high levels of CO2. But otherwise, CO2 wasn’t on the industry’s radar. Now though, CO2 is a front-and-center concern not just for the energy industry but for society at large as the global economy tries to decarbonize. And while renewable energy like wind and solar will be part of that decades-long effort, so will the push to capture CO2 and permanently store it deep underground. Put simply, it’s time for producers, midstreamers, and refiners alike to gain a deeper understanding of carbon capture and sequestration, how it will affect them, and — ideally — how they can profit from it. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our new Drill Down Report.

Tuesday, 02/01/2022

The Internal Revenue Code’s tax credit for carbon oxide sequestration, better known as 45Q, is fortunate to enjoy something very rare in Washington, DC, these days — generally bipartisan support. A host of changes aimed at bolstering the tax credit were included in the House-approved version of the Democrats’ central piece of legislation, the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, but it appears to have no way forward in the Senate — it was declared “dead” Tuesday by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a must-have vote — which means it will likely be split into separate pieces, further complicating its path to passage. Several proposed changes to the 45Q tax credit have already been included in separate legislation, so they could still become a reality. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at some potential changes to the tax credit as well as measures that might restrict its use.

Tuesday, 01/25/2022

Alberta, Canada’s energy powerhouse, accounts for the vast majority of the nation’s crude oil, natural gas, and NGL production. There is a lot of hydrogen locked up in all of those hydrocarbons and Alberta’s provincial government recently laid out a seven-part plan to expand the production and use of “blue” hydrogen — produced from natural gas via steam methane reforming with carbon capture and sequestration — as part of a broader effort to bolster its existing natural gas sector and energy transition cred. In today’s RBN blog, we explore Alberta’s proposed hydrogen strategy.

Monday, 01/17/2022

The idea of capturing the carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and industrial facilities and permanently storing it deep underground is widely viewed as one of the more promising ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The catch is, how do you convince private-sector CO2 emitters to invest tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon capture and sequestration projects? Enter federal government incentives — in this case the Internal Revenue Code’s carbon oxide sequestration tax credits, better known as 45Q, which at first glance would appear to offer certain industries significant financial incentives if they make these investments. However, while the credits — available for a variety of projects and uses — have been around since 2008 and were significantly expanded in 2018, they have not yet made much of an impact. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how the credits can add up for individual projects and how widely variable costs make carbon capture uneconomic for several industries.

Sunday, 01/16/2022

Pandemic. Deep freeze. Decarbonization. Stymied production growth. Sky-high prices. 2021 was definitely one for the record books. But thank goodness we made it and can look forward to a New Year! That means it is time for our annual Top 10 Energy Prognostications, the long-standing RBN tradition where we consider what’s coming next to energy markets. Say what? Surely it would be foolhardy to make predictions now. After all, we’re in the midst of a chaotic energy transition, a pandemic that’s becoming endemic, and political shenanigans in Washington and across the globe. Foolhardy? Nah. All we need to do is stick out our collective RBN necks one more time, peer into our crystal ball, and see what 2022 has in store for us. 

Wednesday, 01/05/2022

Capturing carbon dioxide and permanently storing it below ground is expected to be a critically important tool in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The oil and gas industry has been a leader in showing how CO2 –– albeit mostly CO2 that is produced from underground reservoirs, not captured from industrial facilities or power plants — can be used and sequestered via enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The catch is that capturing CO2 and using it for EOR or injecting it into deep wells for eternal storage doesn’t come cheap and so government incentives are required to justify investment in carbon-capture projects. Enter the 45Q tax credit. First made available for U.S. carbon-capture projects in 2008, it has been expanded considerably since then and could soon be expanded further, although its results to date are a mixed bag at best. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss key aspects of the tax credit, how it has changed over time, and what may be coming down the pipeline.

Sunday, 01/02/2022

Pandemic. Deep freeze. Decarbonization. Stymied production growth. Sky-high prices. 2021 was definitely one for the record books. But thank goodness we made it and can look forward to a New Year! That means it is time for our annual Top 10 Energy Prognostications, the long-standing RBN tradition where we consider what’s coming next to energy markets. Say what? Surely it would be foolhardy to make predictions now. After all, we’re in the midst of a chaotic energy transition, a pandemic that’s becoming endemic, and political shenanigans in Washington and across the globe. Foolhardy? Nah. All we need to do is stick out our collective RBN necks one more time, peer into our crystal ball, and see what 2022 has in store for us. 

Thursday, 12/02/2021

Carbon dioxide is not the most potent of the greenhouse gases, but it is by far the most prevalent, which makes it a primary focus of efforts to protect the planet. And while a lot of attention is being paid to ways to reduce CO2 emissions and to capture those that are produced, it’s important to remember one key fact: There’s strong demand for CO2 for a variety of commercial uses, from enhanced oil recovery and fertilizers to industrial processes and beverage production. In other words, CO2 has real value to certain parts of the global economy and capturing CO2 for sale to these customers must be factored into the decarbonization equation. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the industrial CO2 value chain.

Monday, 11/08/2021

Admittedly, the idea of capturing carbon dioxide, cooling and compressing it into a weird, neither-liquid-nor-gas state, and pumping it deep underground for permanent storage would have baffled the crude oil wildcatters and pipeline builders that created the modern energy industry back in the 1940s and ’50s. They’d surely say, “You’re proposin’ to do what?!” But times have changed. The oil and gas business is entering an extraordinary era of transition, and producers, midstreamers, and refineries alike need to keep abreast of what’s happening regarding carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), how it will affect them, and — ideally — figure out ways to profit from it. That’s the impetus behind today’s RBN blog, in which we begin a deep dive into efforts to reduce emissions of man-made CO2 by capturing it from industrial sources and piping it to specially designed wells for permanent storage.

Thursday, 08/12/2021

A couple of weeks ago, Shell announced a large-scale carbon capture and sequestration initiative at its Scotford refinery complex near Edmonton, AB. It’s one of the largest recent efforts to marry hydrogen production with CCS — an increasingly popular solution informally referred to as “blue” hydrogen. Shell is not alone. Across North America, the idea of capturing carbon dioxide to clean up our collective act is quickly gaining momentum and support. Whether we’re talking about refineries, ammonia plants, steam crackers, ethanol plants, or any other carbon-generating industrial process, capturing the CO2 — making the process “blue” — is seen by many as a way to make significant progress toward climate goals without over-burdening governments or consumers with the sky-high costs associated with some of the more technically challenging energy transition technologies. Today, we discuss the energy industry’s embrace of carbon capture solutions and how it could shape our energy future.