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Petroleum companies should see CO2 as a valuable resource, UCL expert says
22 November 2013
22 November 2013
Australian petroleum companies should see CO2 as a valuable resource that could help them diversify their business models, according to a University College London carbon expert.
UCL’s International Energy Policy Institute director, Professor Stefaan Simons, will tell the Oil and Gas Summit in Perth on Friday (22 November) that “getting value out of carbon dioxide could help companies prepare for a carbon-constrained economy”.
“If we can close the carbon cycle, whereby we capture and re-use the CO2 we emit to the atmosphere back into the system in the form of new products, then there could be enormous potential benefits. This is already recognised in Europe, where a great deal of research and investment is going into this area, involving some of the world’s major chemical companies.
“For the chemical industry, CO2 can be a valuable feedstock, replacing oil and gas. With CO2, we start further along the process line, with the additional benefit of reducing energy requirements.”
“The Holy Grail is to be able to capture CO2 directly and efficiently from the atmosphere. Some pioneering companies are already doing this, albeit on a small scale. Being able to do it on a large scale quickly and efficiently is some way off at the moment, but this is the direction we need to be heading. It will require new advances in catalysis and separation technology.”
Professor Simons, who founded the Centre for CO2 Technology at UCL in London, says Australia needs to be thinking about this technology, which would not eliminate C02, but enable it to be reused on a continuous basis, in a similar way to photosynthesis.
“It could be a way for the major oil and gas companies to diversify their business models so that they become producers of other value-added chemicals and other products, without giving up their core business,” he says.
“Investors are already starting to move away from oil and gas due to the risks associated with climate change, so these companies will need to diversify to survive.”
Awarded a Global Research Fellowship from the Royal Academy in 2009 to develop his ideas on the open innovation of low carbon technologies and processes for the energy industry, Prof Simons is recognised as an expert in the field.
He says Australia simply cannot ignore the future challenges of operating in a carbon-constrained environment.
“In my view, climate change is the defining challenge of our time, but the enormity of that challenge is, in some cases, causing a paralysis of action, with many companies burying their heads in the sand, rather than dealing with the issue,” he says.
“It’s something that we can’t continue to ignore. The evidence is very strong that climate change is happening – we saw that in the latest ICC report– and the biggest source of man-made greenhouse gasses is from the use of fossil fuels.
“We’ve got to face up to it and do something about it.”
ABOUT ‘OIL AND GAS SUMMIT’
The Oil and gas Summit 2013 is being held in Perth on 21-22 November 2013.
Professor Simons is delivering a keynote presentation ‘Operating in Carbon-Constrained Future: Challenges and Opportunities’.