Opinion: Carbon Capture, Storage will Help the Permian Basin Thrive
12.08.2023 By Tank Terminals - NEWS

December 8, 2023 [MRT]- As governments and energy industry leaders increasingly look for ways to meet growing domestic and global demand, they should be buoyed by the tremendous potential to power the world and safely capture emissions all from the Earth’s subsurface.

 

By 2050, we will need to sustainably produce over 50% of our energy from petroleum and natural gas while meeting ambitious net zero emissions targets. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) will play a key role in realizing these goals and the Permian Basin is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity.

The Permian Basin is a prime example of the geological resources occurring naturally in the United States that provide ideal conditions for both energy production and carbon storage. The Permian’s deep competency in CCS already exists as operators here have been capturing and sequestering carbon for half a century through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. While there are some differences between permanent sequestration and EOR, the concept of capturing CO2 and injecting it underground – and keeping it there – is something operators in the Permian know more about than arguably anyone else. In fact, the first EOR operation was located in Scurry County, on the eastern edge of the Permian Basin, demonstrating the Permian’s long-standing leadership and pioneering role in the space.

Through its innovations and technologies, the energy geoscience industry plays an essential role in identifying and assessing opportunities for CCS in the region and safeguarding against risks with our ability to leverage subsurface data. Our industry can help speed the greater deployment of CCS by identifying the natural subsurface characteristics required to store carbon now, ensure its safe injection, and then monitor its continued containment.  Our members are currently deploying this insight in support of CCS around the world, all part of how energy geoscience is making energy possible.

The U.S. is already a leader in CCS, with 33% of all projects globally, and it stands to reap significant benefits if it can maintain its leadership in the space. The tailwinds from recent legislation have contributed to a favorable environment for additional CCS development in the United States, and with the right regulatory and policy frameworks in place, the Permian Basin is set to capitalize on the vast economic potential presented by the scaling and deployment of CCS.

Energy regulators and policymakers increasingly acknowledge the important role that CCS will play in advancing the energy evolution and achieving a low-carbon economy. The world is currently on track to develop the carbon capture and removal capacity of 2 billion tons (Btpa) by 2050. However, to make further progress toward decarbonization and achieve net zero by that time, the world requires more than three times that much CCS capacity. Further underscoring the need to rapidly scale CCS, bringing all currently announced carbon capture projects into operation by 2030 would increase current CCS capacity by more than eightfold. Yet, this would still represent just one-third of what’s needed in that timeframe to remain on track with the target of achieving net zero by 2050.

There is still much work to do – and permits to be issued— as most of the announced U.S.-based projects linger in regulatory purgatory, waiting for permits to inject and store carbon that has been captured.  In fact, not a single “Class VI” well permit has been approved since the Biden Administration reported in June 2021 its “commit[ment] to accelerating the responsible development and deployment of CCUS to make it a widely available, increasingly cost-effective, and rapidly scalable climate solution.” And Texas’ attempt to seek primacy from the Administration to issue these permits is also following the same slow crawl pace.

Yet, in recent months, we’ve seen momentum in the Permian around CCS that further demonstrates its competitive advantage and the economic opportunity presented by scaling the technology here. This fall, environmental company Milestone Carbon announced the development of a new CCS hub in Midland and Upton counties, with an estimated capacity of 30 million metric tons of captured CO2 over its life, which is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.5 million U.S. passenger cars and trucks.

The companies of the energy geoscience industry recognize the Permian’s CCS opportunity. We stand ready to help speed the deployment of these projects and ultimately to transform the Permian Basin into not only a leading site for petroleum and natural gas production, but also a global CCS hub that can be a beacon to other regions around the world looking to scale this critical solution.

 

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