Energy Analytics Energy Transition

The Hype and the Realities of CCUS

byGraham Bain

The Enverus Intelligence® Research (EIR) Subsurface Innovation Team attended AAPG’s CCUS 2024 conference in Houston March 11-13. The conference, which also brought together SPE and SEG membership, hyped up the need for CCUS to offset the demand for fossil fuels, which according to our forecast is expected to grow from 103 MMbbl/d in 2024 to 108 MMbbl/d by 2030.

The takeaways here were originally published by our Subsurface Innovation Team shortly after the AAPG conference. To gain early access to crucial insights in a rapidly changing industry, learn more from our EIR team’s daily insights with Enverus Energy Transition Research.

KEY POINTS

  • CCUS appeared to be summiting the hype curve at this year’s conference. As oil and gas will be needed for the foreseeable future, CCUS will be necessary to decarbonize. While major projects have yet to start injecting, small-scale pilots funded by governments are sharing results, which is contributing to the evolving knowledge base.
  • Despite this progress, large-scale implementation will come with challenges such as unpredictable reservoir behavior, well integrity issues, plume migration, pressure interference, regulatory, policy and public perception hurdles, and lack of a long-term global carbon price.
  • To reach proposed net-zero goals, a major focus is required to build new CO2 transportation infrastructure and to permit and drill hundreds of Class VI injection wells, highlighting the importance and need to accelerate CCUS initiatives.
  • There seemed to be less sharing and operators were more guarded with their information. We’ve gone from a collaborative space to a competitive one.
  •  The acquisitions of XOM-DEN at $4.9 billion and OXY- Carbon Engineering at $1.1 billion bolster the CCUS industry’s legitimacy and underscore a trend toward enhanced vertical integration.

KEY THEMES GOING INTO 2024:

CCUS at Scale

  • We’re going to need more of everything – more pipelines (50,000-60,000 miles), more electricity (35% increase by 2050 in the Gulf Coast area), more water (5-25 tonnes of water per tonne of CO2).
  • Some 650 Class VI wells will be needed by 2050 to meet injection targets, up from just two active Class VI wells today.
  • The U.S. DOE will spend $2.25 billion in funding CarbonSAFE projects with 15 more planned announcements this year. Five mtpa of injection is expected from this program by 2025.
  • Community outreach and knowledge will be critical to advance CCUS projects at scale across the U.S.
  • It was expressed that no one wants to be the first large-scale injection project because of risk and uncertainty. However, to accelerate CCUS initiatives, operators and developers need to execute projects, learn from mistakes, share information, iterate and keep moving forward.
  • The upcoming U.S. election is raising concerns about the impact on CCUS projects, but the consensus is that this is a low risk due to the bipartisan support for most major U.S. funding.

The Cost of CCUS

  • Inflation is a problem. Projects cost 30% more and $85/tonne isn’t going to cut it anymore.
  • The industry acknowledges the benefits of hub-scale development to bring down costs.
  • Presentations on the cost of CCUS were the most well attended, showing a large desire by participants to understand the economics of all components of the CCUS value chain.

Policy and Regulation for Carbon

  • Not all Class VI permits are the same, but applications need to be thorough, clear and address any local differences.
  • Applications are getting better and more successful partially because the EPA is getting better, and the agency’s questions are becoming more targeted.
  • Some presentations from regulators implored applicants to be extremely thorough with their application materials to alleviate the backlog of projects currently under review.
  • There needs to be a long-term, clear price on carbon, supported by incentives or requirements to source low-carbon products.

The Known Unknowns of CCUS

  • Legacy wellbore risk is still a huge topic. How can these risks be quantified?
  • How is the AOR defined? The height where the hydraulic head of the pressurized reservoir meets the depth of drinking water (underground sources of drinking water or 10,000 TDS).
  • How do different rock types behave when in contact with CO2? CO2 mineralizes in basaltic reservoirs within two years. These projects expect smaller plume sizes and a lower risk of CO2 escape. However, is large-scale injection possible?
  • How do different caprock lithologies react with CO2 and will containment issues arise?
  • Volumetric capacity estimation for CO2 storage assumes fluid displacement. If EIR assumes pressure competition or a closed system, reservoir utilization (or efficiency factor) could be reduced from 4% to 0.4%, or a 10x reduction in storage capacity.

Learn more with our CCUS Fireside Chat Webinar Series, where host Graham Bain explores different aspects of the CCUS value chain with esteemed guests.

About Enverus Intelligence®| Research

Enverus Intelligence® | Research, Inc. (EIR) is a subsidiary of Enverus that publishes energy-sector research focused on the oil, natural gas, power and renewable industries. EIR publishes reports including asset and company valuations, resource assessments, technical evaluations and macro-economic forecasts, and helps make intelligent connections for energy industry participants, service companies and capital providers worldwide. EIR is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a foreign investment adviser. Click here to learn more.

Picture of Graham Bain

Graham Bain

Graham joined Enverus Intelligence Research (EIR) in 2020 with the acquisition of RS Energy Group. As lead of the subsurface group on the Energy Transition Intelligence team, Graham creates intelligent connections between the subsurface, emerging energy and carbon innovation technologies through a deep understanding of geosciences and the energy transition. Prior to EIR, Graham worked as an analyst for the Alberta Energy Regulator with a focus on the Athabasca oil sands, and as a geologist in training for a Calgary-based exploration company.

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