Economic View

On Abu Dhabi’s carbon capture efforts and the role of hydrogen in the energy mix

How are research and development initiatives helping improve overall efficiencies and supporting Abu Dhabi’s net-zero ambitions in the oil and gas sector?

MUSABBEH AL KAABI: Safely and permanently storing CO2 underground is crucial to reducing overall emissions. As such, ADNOC is investing in scalable carbon-related technologies to become a net-zero business by 2050. In January 2023 ADNOC started working on a project to fully sequester CO2 in a carbonate saline aquifer, and it is also piloting carbon capture and mineralisation in Fujairah, a process that involves solidifying injected CO2 through a natural chemical reaction in geological formations.

The Thamama Subsurface Centre of Excellence generated more than $1.1bn in value between its inception in 2017 and February 2021 through strategic investment in advanced technology, digitalisation and artificial intelligence, as well as through projects focused on reducing development costs, increasing production capacity and boosting recovery. Together with ADNOC’s Low Carbon Solutions and International Growth Directorate, these developments represent tangible progress as the company works towards reducing its carbon intensity by 25% by 2030 and achieving net zero.

In what ways can national energy initiatives advance global efforts to implement practical climate solutions while promoting sustainable economic growth?

AL KAABI: The world needs maximum energy output, minimum emissions and all available energy solutions to ensure global energy security and an equitable transition to renewables. As such, national energy companies have a responsibility to make their current energy production cleaner, while simultaneously investing in the development of clean sources of energy. ADNOC is committed to remaining one of lowest carbon intensity oil and gas producers in the world, while investing in carbon capture, hydrogen and renewables.

To support these commitments, the company is investing an additional $15bn to advance projects across its operations by 2030. These projects include investment in clean power, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); energy efficiency; the further electrification of operations; and new measures to build on the long-standing policy of zero routine gas flaring. ADNOC is investing in renewable energy and green hydrogen as a shareholder in the government-run Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which targets 100 GW of renewable capacity and the production of 1m tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030.

What is hydrogen’s role in Abu Dhabi’s future energy mix, and what can be done to ensure that domestic technical capabilities are in place to achieve self-sufficiency?

AL KAABI: We are well placed to expand upon the UAE’s position as a regional leader in the production of low- and no-carbon fuels, chemicals and refined products. In particular, the UAE’s hydrocarbon reserves, large-scale hydrogen and ammonia production facilities, access to cost-competitive solar photovoltaic energy and large-scale CCUS facilities will enable the clean hydrogen business. The Al Reyadah CCUS facility captures 800,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. ADNOC’s practical approach to the energy transition involves the current deployment of low-carbon hydrogen, while simultaneously commercialising green hydrogen for longer-term use in the energy mix.

We have sent several demonstration cargoes of low-carbon ammonia from the UAE to customers in Asia and Europe, where it is being tested in new power applications. The company is establishing a partnership network of technology providers, transporters, distributors and customers to bring low-carbon products to global markets. Though this network, ADNOC aims to drive both supply and demand. To enable human capital development, educational programmes and sector-specific training courses that support hydrogen-related skills and competencies need to be established. ADNOC can rely on short and intensive programmes for suitable engineering graduates to quickly support business needs during the first phase, which will require effective planning with educational institutions.