x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

Abu Dhabi explores capturing more CO2 to help in oil production

The emirate's only carbon capture plant Al Reyadah is a jonint venture between Adnoc and Masdar

Abu Dhabi launched the Al Reyadah Abu Dhabi Carbon Capture Company in 2016. Delores Johnson / The National
Abu Dhabi launched the Al Reyadah Abu Dhabi Carbon Capture Company in 2016. Delores Johnson / The National

Abu Dhabi’s sole carbon capture company Al Reyadah is exploring plans to bring carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from industrial facilities, power plants and refineries to be deployed into enhanced oil recovery (EOR) efforts at onshore fields in the emirate.

Future plans by the company - a joint venture between state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and clean energy firm Masdar - could divert around 13.3 million tonnes of CO2 emitted from UAE-based industries towards oil and gas production, replacing natural gas, officials said.

Al Reyadah, currently captures 800,000 tonnes of CO2 from the Emirates Steel facilities in Abu Dhabi, and after compression and dehydration at its plant in Mussafah, transports the gas for injection at Adnoc’s onshore Habshan oil field.

Abu Dhabi largely uses natural gas to maintain pressure in oil wells, but injecting CO2 into reservoirs will free up the hydrocarbon fuel for power generation requirements.

“We see future projects coming, some of them under discussion, some of them under the planning phase,” UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei told a ministerial session of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Al Reyadah project will explore the potential for capturing CO2 from Emirates Global Aluminium facilities from 2024 as well as from the Taweelah power facilities from 2030 onwards, said the minister. Arafat Al Yafei, chief executive at Al Reyadah, said around five million tonnes of CO2 could be captured from refineries in the UAE.

Some of the reservoirs that Adnoc is looking to pump CO2 injections into include the southwestern sour-gas producing Shah field, which has been planned for 2022, Mr Al Mazrouei.

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Saudi Arabia was the first to develop a carbon capture storage (CCS) plant that enhances its domestic oil production. It commissioned a 800,000 tonne-capacity CCS plant at Uthmaniya in the eastern province in 2013. The facility compresses and dehydrates CO2 from the Hawiyah natural gas liquids recovery facility, which is then transported via pipeline to be injected into the Ghawar oil field, the world's biggest oil field.

Abu Dhabi and other Gulf producers in the region have traditionally utilised natural gas to maintain pressure on reservoirs. Producers with more mature fields such as Oman have used polymer injections and more recently, solar-powered steam to help recovery of heavier oil reserves. The UAE, which has targeted a 38 per cent share of natural gas in its clean energy targets for 2050, has looked to save the relatively cleaner fuel for power generation.

“We don’t need EOR today to meet our production targets but we need to invest before the need comes in,” said Mr Al yafei.

“Thirty-eight per cent of our energy strategy must come from natural gas, so we need to find ways of liberating our use of natural gas today from pressure maintenance towards the power sector,” he added.

UAE-based Dodsal Group won the engineering procurement and construction contract to build the Reyadah facilities in 2013 for Dh450 million. There are 17 large-scale CCS plants in operation worldwide, according to the Australia-headquartered Global CCS Institute. Four plants - two in Canada and one each in Australia and China - are currently under construction, according to the institute.