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ExxonMobil Doubles Down on Carbon Capture in $3-Billion Plan To Lower Emissions

Mark Silverstone's picture
Principal JMP Services AS

30+ years in Oil & Gas Industry Field of Interest: Environmental issues in general; waste management issues in particular. 

  • Member since 2002
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  • Feb 5, 2021

ExxonMobil said the potential exists to collect millions of metric tons (Mt) of CO2 from industrial plants that dot the coastal region which can then be stored in formations accessible from both onshore and offshore fields. Similar projects and partnerships are being considered in Europe and across Asia.

ExxonMobil noted in its announcement that it has been in the carbon-capture business for more than 30 years and currently collects around 9 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The oil company owns equity in about 20% of global CCS capacity, representing facilities that account for nearly 40% of the world’s captured manmade emissions, according to ExxonMobil.

This looks like a major gamble for ExxonMobil.  Two of the planned seven projects are in the EU where there is an active carbon sequestration market. 

More than once though, the CEO described CCS as “a very complicated” sector, not least of which because of its dependence on regulatory frameworks to allow for a sustainable business.

Historically, that has contributed to the biggest problem with CCS, which is its inability to generate profits. This is changing, though, thanks to new tax incentives and the advent of carbon credits, which ExxonMobil expects to be selling to others as its efforts ramp up.

 So, does ExxonMobil know something that the whole of the industry doesn´t?

As part of the rollout, two new partnerships were shared. ExxonMobil said it is working with a carbonate fuel cell developer called FuelCell Energy and a direct-air-capture firm called Global Thermostat.  

ExxonMobil also announced plans to increase its production of hydrogen, which has some synergies with CCS operations. The oil company produced about 1.3 Mt of clean-burning hydrogen last year, according to company reports.

Might it be related to a possible mega merger with Chevron?

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 5, 2021

"ExxonMobil...has been in the carbon-capture business for more than 30 years and currently collects around 9 million metric tons of CO2 per year...The oil company owns equity in about 20% of global CCS capacity, representing facilities that account for nearly 40% of the world’s captured manmade emissions,"

Pretty impressive. Exxon appears to be well on the way to capturing much of the 38 billion tons of CO2 emitted by fossil fuel combustion each year. Let's see..(grabs calculator)...38 billion...divided by 9 million...equals...4,222?! After 30 years, Exxon is only capturing one four-thousandth of the CO2 its products, and those of its fellow climate-destroyers, are emitting into the atmosphere?


But the oil company owns equity in about 20% of global CCS capacity. Of course, if we bought one share in one-fifth of the world's CCS firms, we could accomplish the same feat for about a thousand bucks, couldn't we?

Not that impressive after all! It's almost as if Exxon, like solar developers, is using big percentages of tiny, tiny numbers to give the impression they're making an earnest effort to fight climate change. Par for the course - another big company, telling big lies, to make big money, at the expense of the environment. Isn't it?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 5, 2021

Wonder if there's an angle where if they keep sharing about the money they're putting into CCS, if that buys them more time where they can simply assure people the burning of fossil fuels will become more problematic, so they don't see reductions more immediately and drastically in their market. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 8, 2021

Of course, Matt. Carbon Capture and Storage, Climate Engineering, Clean Coal, and Carbon Offsets are inventions of fossil-fuel marketing departments - fake, just-around-the-corner "solutions" which will never be viable, and were never meant to be.

The only goal is to keep oil, gas, and coal profitable for as long as possible.

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