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The Saudis dive into carbon capture

Like Texas, Saudi Arabia is full of oil. And like Texans, the Saudis believe in doing things at a bigger scale than other people.


Earlier in November, Saudi Arabia has announced plans for a "circular carbon economy", including the construction of the world's largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) hub in partnership with national oil company Aramco. The facility, set to be operational by 2027, will initially extract and store 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, with a goal of capturing and storing 44 million tonnes by 2035. While Aramco also aims to reduce gas flaring, scale up renewable energies, and plant billions of trees, its focus on CCS technology has been met with a large dollop of skepticism. The Saudis will need carbon capture to meet their 2060 goal of carbon neutrality (which is also taken with a heathy dollop of skepticism.)


Details are somewhat scarce. The complex will be housed in Jubail, and roughly 6 million tons/yr of CO2 are slated to come from Saudi Aramco. This is likely CO2 that is already being separated from natural gas produced nearby. The Saudi chemical giant SABIC is headquartered in Jubail, and its subsidiary the Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co (SAFCO) produces ammonia there, so it's a reasonable guess that the remaining 3 million tons/year CO2 will be from fertilizer production.


This first 9 million tons of CO2/year is therefore pretty cheap to abate, as CO2 capture goes. This represents a good learning opportunity for the Saudis, and the entire world will get to see just how cheap CO2 capture can be when scaled.

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