Abu Dhabi officially inaugurated the first commercial-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) facility in the Middle East and North Africa on 5 November.

Developed by Abu Dhabi’s Carbon Capture Company (Al-Reyadah), which is a joint venture of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), the plant is designed to sequester up to 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO?) a year from local steel producer Emirates Steel Industries (ESI) before injecting it into oil reservoirs to enhance oil recovery.

The plant, which has been built in the Mussafah industrial area next to ESI’s facility, takes CO? from ESI, compresses and dehydrates it, and then sends it 43 kilometres by pipeline to Adnoc’s Al-Rumaitha and Bab onshore oil fields where it is used in the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process as a substitute for natural gas, which is then freed up for other uses such as power generation.

“This project will allow for the more productive use of a valuable commodity, natural gas, whether for power generation, or as petrochemicals feedstock, or for export,” says Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, UAE Minister of State, Adnoc CEO and chairman of Masdar. “It also unlocks another potential revenue stream in the industrial sector, encouraging the wider application of commercially viable CCUS technologies globally.”

Joining forces

Abu Dhabi has been able to achieve commerciality on the scheme by combining the efforts of three state-owned companies, each of which had different goals and objectives from the project. “This is a result of the three national champions coming together to find an equation that works for everybody. It is a win-win solution, making the products of Emirates Steel [Industries] carbon neutral, making Adnoc improve its operations in terms of enhanced oil recovery and Masdar a player in deploying the technology.” says Bader al-Lamki, executive director of clean energy at Masdar.

Construction of the $122m CCUS scheme, one of only 22 large-scale CCUS ventures, started in July 2013. The initial engineering was completed by US-based Mustang. Detailed engineering was done by Tebodin of the Netherlands, and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor was the local Dodsal.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency says carbon capture and storage technologies are expected to account for one-sixth of required emissions reductions by 2050.

For Abu Dhabi, the government says the technology will make an important contribution to the UAE meeting its climate change targets. “This project [Al-Reyadah] will take out, in terms of CO? emissions, about 170,000 cars from the streets, so it is a huge improvement and it supports the initiative of the UAE in reducing emissions and directing our energy sources towards greener forms of energy,” says UAE Minister of Energy Suhail Mohammad Faraj Faris al-Mazrouei.

More carbon capture schemes are being considered in Abu Dhabi, although no details on what the next schemes may be have been released. “The ambition is there, which is why Al-Reyadah has been created to champion this technology in the UAE and elsewhere, but it is going to be a gradual process, but the start is this plant today. Continue injecting, gain confidence and then move on to other capture installations within the UAE,” says Al-Lamki.

Abu Dhabi’s experience in commercialising carbon capture could also be utilised by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), which includes Saudi Aramco, as it prepares to invest $1bn in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. “At gatherings such as the one next week, [Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference] Adipec, this will be a project that will be talked about a lot and we will definitely be available to collaborate with others within the region, but there is no real dialogue at this stage yet,” says Al-Lamki.

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Abu Dhabi Carbon Capture