By Mella McEwen
Midland Reporter-Telegram, Dec. 12, 2022
Amid the race to decarbonize fossil fuels and capture and store carbon, oil and gas operators have a unique opportunity.
“The oil and gas industry has a unparalleled understanding of the subsurface, with dynamic data sets to look at,” pointed out Rachel Schelble, head of corporate carbon management and infrastructure at Wood Mackenzie.
Speaking with Grant Swartzwelder, president of OTA Environmental Solutions during the monthly Oilfield Strong webinar, she said the industry is in a unique position on carbon capture and storage.
“The industry has very few levers to pull to reduce its overall footprint; carbon storage is one pivot the industry can take to decarbonize and play a central role in energy transition,” she said.
Part of her job is working with oil and gas industry clients to understand the business models, emerging technologies and strategies driving the energy transition. Her research focuses on understanding the role of the evolving carbon markets, decarbonization strategies and technologies and the unique ways the industry can develop low carbon solutions.
Even smaller operators could leverage new technologies for carbon capture and storage, she said.
“I think there are opportunities for all companies, given individual projects or partnerships they can form. Partnering is one of the ways exploration companies can spread the risk. Partnering in carbon capture is one way for smaller operators to get involved in ways they couldn’t by themselves.”
Schelble said she also sees a place for testing technologies, noting there are a lot of start-up and niche companies wanting to bring their technologies to the industry, offering ways for smaller companies to participate. One example she cited is start-up companies looking at ways to store carbon in concrete.
“What are the opportunities out there to take carbon out of a processing facility in the Permian Basin and put it in concrete to build infrastructure?” she asked. “There are unique and creative ways to get out there and leverage opportunities. There are projects out there that that can open doors and lessen the challenge for smaller companies.”
Such creative options are needed as oil and gas operators are called on to not only produce more oil and natural gas but decarbonize that production.
There are opportunities in the midstream sector to repurpose pipelines to transport carbon, she added. Perhaps not in the Permian Basin, where capacity is full, but there are available pipelines in other regions, she said.
“No one is talking about reducing production in the Permian or anywhere else for the energy transition,” she said. “We have the important trilemma of energy security, affordability and the energy transition. The more solutions we can find, the more we can decarbonize, the better off we’re going to be.”
Originally posted on Midland Reporter-Telegram.