ONGC has presented the plan to Niti Aayog, which is leading the policy discussion on carbon capture projects in the country.
The project comprises carbon capture at multiple industrial sites including steel, oil, cement, and power facilities, its evacuation by pipelines to onshore intermediate storage, and further transport via pipeline or ships to a final storage site in the sea, as per the executive who didn’t want to be named. The project would take three years to build after the details are finalised.
The project details, including the carbon collection sources and the location of the sink where the captured CO2 will be deposited, as well as the funding, are yet to be worked out.
Cost Holds Key to Project Viability
ONGC is already working on a smaller carbon capture and utilisation (CCUS) project with Indian Oil Corp where the CO2 will be captured at the latter’s refinery in Gujarat and transported to a nearby ONGC’s oilfield for utilisation in its enhanced oil recovery project.
ONGC’s mega project to capture and store 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 would require massive investments and financial support from the government. A previous study conducted by ONGC had projected a cost of more than $1 billion for building a carbon capture and storage project with a capacity of 0.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
Carbon capture cost would be key to the viability of the project.
Technological advancements, policy moves to make industrial emitters pay for emissions, and state financial aid would be necessary to make the CCS project viable, industry executives said. High carbon capture cost also means higher operating costs throughout the life of the project.
The ONGC project is inspired by the Northern Lights CO2 capture and storage project that Equinor, Shell and Total are developing in Norway with the funding support of its government. Northern Lights project aims to transport 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually to permanently store it 2,600 meters below the seabed of the North Sea. The Northern Lights project will be operational in 2024.
The oil industry has been projecting carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) as a key technological tool in the fight against climate change as it would help lower emissions without curbing the use of fossil fuels. Some of the CCUS facilities have been around since the 1970s and the global carbon capture capacity today is around 40 MtCO2 each year, as per the International Energy Agency.