Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that some climate change impacts are inevitable, though the worst effects may be avoidable. Several energy companies have announced plans to invest more heavily in renewable energy, but fuel-consuming cars, trucks, and planes continue traveling around the world. How does society reconcile the two? What is the place for oil companies in this future?
Check Mansfield’s new report on the future of energy as we interview industry expert Andy Milton to learn how he expects trends to unwind.
Today in FUESNews, we’ll explore two specific topics that have been prevalent in the fossil fuels space.
Enhanced Oil Recovery uses chemicals, often carbon dioxide, to increase oil well returns. The CO2 is pumped into the ground to facilitate increase oil flow, locking the gas underground. The practice is controversial – sequestering the CO2 is beneficial, but environmentalists point out that the extracted oil still brings its own emissions.
The recent infrastructure bill allocates some funding to carbon sequestration, including EOR. Today, the costs are prohibitive, but the potential of a future carbon market make the opportunity more intriguing. In the future, oil companies could be incentivized to maximize their injection of carbon into oil wells, whether it produces oil or not.
Renewable Diesel is another area where oil companies are offering environmental solutions. Renewable diesel uses sustainable resources such as used cooking oil, soybean oil, and more to create high-quality diesel fuel. Not only does renewable diesel have lower emissions on its own, they also use feedstocks like soybeans that absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.
Last week, two oil majors, ExxonMobil and Chevron, announced research projects to find ways to produce renewable diesel without expensive projects to transform refineries. If successful, these processes would enable oil companies to quickly convert to producing renewable diesel as demand rises.
The Road Ahead
Energy companies are exploring a wide array of different method for reducing carbon emissions, sequestering it from the atmosphere, and mitigating climate impacts. Some of these will require changing consumer behavior, such as switching them from normal diesel to renewable diesel. Other changes will be easier to manage internally, giving oil companies more control.
The energy industry has undergone many changes in the past, and will continue doing so. As governments and societies pursue low-carbon strategies, energy companies will necessarily be at the forefront of the efforts. By partnering with these companies and exploring real, practical solutions, the world can enable a seamless transition to a more sustainable future.