Thermal Power

31 Oct 2021

ExxonMobil Eyes Building CCS Hubs in Southeast Asia

31 Oct 2021  by   
ExxonMobil is looking to build carbon dioxide (CO2) capture hubs in some of southeast Asia's heavy industrial areas such as Singapore and connecting them to storage sites elsewhere in the region, said Joe Blommaert, ExxonMobil's president of low-carbon solutions.

"This would create a regional network that would connect high-emitting industries to world-scale storage," he said at the Singapore International Energy Week, which runs from 25-29 October.

Total CO2 emissions from Asia, excluding China, reached 4.57bn t in 2019, according to data from the IEA, more than double its emissions from the turn of the century. ExxonMobil's plan is further supported by a recent Singapore Energy Centre study estimating nearly 300bn t of CO2 storage capacity in southeast Asia, Blommaert said. ExxonMobil is a founding member of the centre.

The firm also sees carbon capture and storage (CCS) unlocking the potential of hydrogen, which is becoming an important energy source.

"In most cases today, the processes that produce … hydrogen create carbon dioxide as a byproduct," Blommaert said. "Adding carbon capture and sequestration could enable widespread production of low carbon intensity hydrogen at competitive costs and help reduce emissions associated with some of these industrial processes including — in certain locations — power generation and even transportation."

CCS can also help cut emissions in hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as manufacturing. "You can electrify some of the processes — I believe that will be challenging — but inherent in some of these production processes there will be carbon dioxide generated. That's why I believe in these critical sectors that underpin society you will have to have carbon capture and sequestration," Blommaert said.

While CCS is widely considered a key tool for reducing emissions, adding the technology to a plant entails significant costs that can be offset by sufficient CO2 prices.

But much of the world does not have sufficient carbon pricing, Blommaert said. The "[carbon] pricing systems that we've seen so far cover only some parts of the globe … they vary significantly in value and they're not all sufficient to attract investment."

Europe has implemented firm emission-reduction targets and carbon trading, becoming the first major economic region to detail a policy path towards net-zero emissions in 2050. But Asia is catching up, with China launching its own emissions trading scheme — albeit one that does not yet incorporate many sectors — and Singapore introducing a carbon tax of $5/t of CO2 equivalent. New Zealand and South Korea launched emissions trading systems in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

Article 6 of the Paris climate agreement — which aims to set rules for international carbon trading — will be one of the key areas for negotiation at the Cop 26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October to 12 November.

"I believe a transparent price on carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions at [the] lowest cost to society," Blommaert said.

Singapore is home to ExxonMobil's largest integrated manufacturing complex. The firm's 592,000 b/d refinery is fully integrated with its chemicals plant on Jurong island. The plants can produce around 1.9mn t/yr of ethylene.

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