The new project headed by Wintershall DEA and INEOS could be a major contributor to the effort to reduce GHG in our atmosphere or simply another way for oil companies to extract more oil while appearing to be helping our environment.
The Climate Crisis has Destroyed Reputations as well as Ecosystems
While devastatingly impacting ecosystems worldwide, the climate crisis has also devastated the public image of organizations involved in its creation. Gas and oil companies worldwide have gone from being considered some of the most important contributors to our economies to now being made pariahs as the architects of our demise. This change has happened drastically in less than 100 years, and as such, these organizations are taking measures to ensure their survival in the future.
A technology they have known about for nearly 40 years called carbon capture storage is being widely adopted by many companies in many countries. These projects are important because they have the potential to drastically reduce the amount of co2 emissions being released into our atmosphere. It makes one wonder how or why they didn’t implement these technologies sooner; however, we are at the point where we need whatever options are available to us to stave off the potentially catastrophic outcomes.
How CCS and Project Greensand Works
Project Greensand is the name of the carbon capture and storage project led by Wintershall Dea and INEOS and is operated 200km off the North Sea coast. This project is the latest to be launched and will take carbon shipped from Belgium and inject it into a depleted oil field. According to Wintershall, this project is the first cross-border effort explicitly to mitigate climate change, setting an example for other countries and their companies.
Carbon capture storage (CCS) captures carbon dioxide generated by fossil fuel production and/or burning and transports stored carbon dioxide to inject it deep into rock formations. This carbon injection into the rock sequesters the carbon from our atmosphere and into areas where the carbon will remain for hundreds of thousands of years.
This technology is incredibly important because while renewable energy helps mitigate our reliance on fossil fuels and the continued addition of carbon to our atmosphere, it doesn’t reduce the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere.
However, there are problems with implementing CCS technology at scale. There has never been a successful implementation of CCS technology without the continued burning of fossil fuels; therefore, CCS relies on the existing problem of fossil fuels while positioning itself as if it’s a solution to the climate crisis.
There is also the fact that oftentimes the injection of carbon into rock formations underground occurs at depleted oil wells, and the pressure created by the injection of carbon actually opens up more oil to be harvested by oil companies, which are primarily responsible for the CCS technology. This allows oil companies to degrade our environment further while positioning themselves as if saving it, which seems like greenwashing.
The Dilemma of CCS Technology
The potential benefits of CCS technology are not to be understated. If CCS technology can be implemented at scale, it could be a major boon to the environment while providing jobs and opportunities for the people and companies involved. But it should be understood that while this could be the case, it could also be a dead end.
If it is a dead end, oil companies will use the language of saving the environment while continuing with business as usual. This is particularly sinister as they can essentially launder their reputation to appear as if they have learned from their mistakes and are genuinely trying to make positive changes. CCS is something that should be kept a close eye on, as the benefits could be huge, but the costs could also be just as high.