ExxonMobil’s plan to tackle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions involves carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology the company says “could enable some heavy-emitting sectors to decarbonise.” It is seeking support to develop a public-private, multi-user CCS project in the Houston Ship Channel, part of the Port of Houston, that it estimates would cost $100bn or more. It is pressing for tax incentives or a carbon-pricing system, as well as financial contributions from other companies in the area.
ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions – created in February 2021 to commercialise ExxonMobil’s low-carbon technology portfolio – chose the Houston Ship Channel for this project because of its numerous refineries and chemical plants, facilities that are hard to decarbonise, according to Joe Blommaert, president of the Low Carbon Solutions business.
The plan looks to store 50mn tonnes of CO2 under the Gulf of Mexico by 2030 and double that by 2040. Captured CO2 would be piped to offshore reservoirs in rock formations up to 6,000 feet below the sea floor.
ExxonMobil, although committed to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, sees oil and gas continuing to play a vital role in the economy for some time into the future. Rather than transitioning to cleaner fuels or energy sources, the company is increasing its spending on carbon-capture projects, despite some shareholder pressure to change.
While ExxonMobil views CCS as the most viable way to meet increasingly stringent GHG emission targets, the technology’s critics say a move away from fossil fuels is the only path to successfully reduce emissions to the degree required to stop climate change.
CCS “is not something that’s going to save [oil and gas companies] from having to go through the energy transition,” said Rob Schuwerk, executive director of the North American office of Carbon Tracker Initiative.