Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) wants to build carbon capture storage (CCS) hubs in Southeast Asia, similar to its project in Houston, Texas, and has started talks with some countries with potential storage options for carbon dioxide, the company’s head of low carbon solutions said.
Last month, the U.S. energy major said 11 companies have agreed to begin discussing plans that could lead to capturing and storing up to 50 million tonnes per year (tpy) of CO2 in the Gulf of Mexico by 2030.
“Unlike in Houston, the storage capacity here is not close to the areas with the highest emissions,” ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions President Joe Blommaert said at the Singapore International Energy Week.
“That’s why we’ve been studying the concept of placing CO2 capture hubs in some of Asia’s heavy industrial areas such as here in Singapore and then connecting them to CO2 storage locations elsewhere in the region.”
Southeast Asia’s industrial CO2 emissions exceeded 4 billion tpy, Blommaert said, citing 2019 data from the International Energy Agency.
ExxonMobil has listed Singapore, home to the major’s largest refining-petrochemical centre globally, as one of its CCS projects. However, Singapore does not have suitable CO2 storage sites, a recent CCS study commissioned by Singapore government showed. Countries in the region with potential storage sites include Indonesia and Malaysia.
Critics say CCS will extend the life of dirty fossil fuels, but advocates, including the IEA, see CCS as essential to help meet net zero emissions.
Another study by the Singapore Energy Centre, partly founded by ExxonMobil, estimated nearly 300 billion tonnes of CO2 storage capacity in depleted oil and gas fields and saline formations in Southeast Asia, Blommaert said.
“We’re now working with some of the countries identified in this study to progress potential storage locations,” he said, without naming the countries.
However, for CCS to attract investment and become economically viable, there needs to be a transparent carbon price across countries, Blommaert said.
“I believe a transparent price on carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions at the lowest cost to society,” he added.
“Because much of the world doesn’t have carbon pricing, there’s a risk that some operators will move to countries that don’t yet price emissions,” he said.
Melbourne-based Global CCS Institute said in October that global plans to build CCS projects surged 50% over the last nine months.