Construction of the world's largest facility for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will begin in 2021, in a partnership between Carbon Engineering and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.
One of the most significant features of this plan is its location in the Permian Basin, the heart of Texas oil country. The plans begin with one plant that will be capable of capturing 500 kilotons of atmospheric CO2 a year, but new facilities will be added to increase capacity, with each additional plant capable of capturing a megaton of CO2 a year.
Occidental plans to then utilize the trapped carbon to boost oil production, but states the crude oil produced would in total still level out to be carbon neutral, or even negative.This is in order to create more investment and a more sustainble business model for the facility.
Last year's IPCC report concluded that in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, carbon removal from the atmosphere must be implemented in additional to emissions cuts.
As the technology is still in its early stages, and massive investment is required in order to construct one plant, carbon capture is yet to have a significant impact on reducing emissions. However, as Erin Burns of Carbon180 explains to Axios, "The first few projects like this are important not just because of the carbon dioxide they’ll pull out of the air, but because they’ll help pave the way for next tens and hundreds of these plants".
The project, if successful, could send a signal to investors and governments that CCS is a viable option. Will tying carbon capture back to oil production be the standard business model? Will this new plant be a catalyst for the development of CCS facilities around the world?