Kuwait is set to launch a carbon dioxide (CO2) capture programme and is inviting the local private sector to use the emissions from its Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdulla refineries.

It will be the first time in the region that a state-owned industrial facility will sell CO2 to the private sector on such a large scale, although a smaller programme does exist in Saudi Arabia.

According to sources in Kuwait, state refinery operator Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) will invite local companies to apply for a concession to purchase CO2 captured from the two facilities.

The likely date for the submission of prequalification applications is mid-April, with the successful bidder decided by an auction in the summer. The highest bidder will be given the long-term rights to buy the gas at a pre-determined price from KNPC.

The CO2 will be extracted pre-combustion from the refineries’ hydrogen plants. KNPC will build a gas booster plant in each refinery to handle the gas, while the private company will be responsible for building and operating a pipeline network to transfer the gas to its own CO2 processing facility.

It will be up to the concession holder to determine what to do with the CO2. As the emissions are being sold to the private sector, it is unlikely that it will end up being used for reinjection in the state’s oil fields. If that were the case, KNPC would have been expected to transfer the CO2 directly to state upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company.

CO2 can be used in several different industrial processes such as the production of urea and carbonates, refrigerants, the soft drinks industry and pharmaceuticals. It may also be stored underground to prevent its release into the atmosphere.

The pre and post-combustion capture of polluting emissions is a growing trend in the region. Abu Dhabi, through its Masdar initiative, is studying the location of its first CO2 capture unit, while Saudi Aramco is thought to be doing the same at an existing plant.

Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdulla are both set to be upgraded under KNPC’s $6bn clean fuels project, increasing their total refining capacity to 800,000 barrels a day (MEED 17:2:08).

Both these initiatives will use the CO2 for reinjection into oil fields. This in turn will enable the two countries to divert the natural gas that is currently used for that purpose and allocate it for much-needed power generation and industrial requirements. There is a growing threat of a shortage of natural gas throughout the Gulf region.