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Oil Companies Direct Efforts Towards Climate Impact

Oil companies, blamed for playing a role in climate change, have decided to take significant action in the fight against pollution.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía

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Carbon capture and storage means capturing carbon dioxide in power plants that use fossil fuels or in industrial facilities in the metal, cement, or petrochemical industries. Once captured, the CO2 can be transported and reinjected into geological deposits (such as old oil fields) so that it remains buried again in the ground. In some cases, the captured carbon can even be reused.

Carbon capture and storage represent one of the ways to meet the 2016 Paris Agreement targets. In 2019, Occidental Petroleum, BHP, and Chevron invested heavily in the Canadian company Carbon Engineering, which had already been removing carbon from the atmosphere. In February 2021, Exxon Mobil publicly announced a 3 billion investment in low-carbon initiatives such as carbon capture. Days after the announcement, Elon Musk mentioned a 100 million investment that would go into a contest to search for promising carbon capture technology.

In England, BP is working in an area called Teeside, which is home to one of the most polluting factories and refineries. The project aims to collect all emissions through a gas pipeline. The oil giant additionally intends to build a natural gas-fired electric power station, with the aim of replacing power plants that burn fossil fuels and having a potential backup plan for electricity in offshore wind farms. The pipes would transport the carbon dioxide to the North Sea to be pumped into porous rocks. Companies such as Shell, Equinor, and Eni announced that they would also invest in the plan.

Also read: THE CARBON FOOTPRINT BEHIND EMAILS

Investing in carbon reduction and carbon engineering technologies is just one part of the fossil fuel industries' efforts to survive and profit in a world that is increasingly aware of the importance of working to modify the impact of climate change. As there is increasing pressure for oil companies to reduce the carbon content of their products, many of them are already investing in renewable energy and carbon capture. The Colombian company Ecopetrol announced an investment of 200 million dollars in renewable energies and also affirmed that they aim to increase their participation in renewable energies from a real 2% to a range of 4% to 15% in the long term.

Likewise, the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Danish Embassy signed a memorandum of understanding to promote cooperation towards renewable energies, energy efficiency, and electric transport. The Norwegian oil company Equinor has a plan to increase its spending on a range of 15 to 20 percent of its capital investment in clean energy by 2030. The International Energy Agency has stated that carbon capture and storage has enormous potential and is crucial to achieving the carbon-neutral target in the fight against climate change.

However, it is important to consider that according to the IEA Report for the Energy Transitions of the Oil and Gas Industry 2020, the investment of oil and gas companies external to their main business has been less than 1% of capital expenditure total. Additionally, as noted in the report, the largest individual companies spend about an average of 5% on projects outside of the central oil and gas supply, with the largest investment in solar PV and wind. However, the aforementioned Report concludes that a higher percentage of overall capital investment is required to accelerate energy transitions and that the oil and gas industry's priority should be to reduce emissions from its core operations, regardless of the path of  Energy Transitions. The latter, taking into account that 15% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide come from the process of extracting oil and gas and bringing it to consumers.