Technical and commercial feasibility
While many of our technology investments lead to deployment, there are no guaranteed outcomes. Even a technology that faces barriers to deployment can provide valuable insights to business decisions. After years of research and practice, we have learned that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is technically feasible, especially when applied to enhanced oil and natural gas production. CCS involves capturing, transporting, and storing CO2 in underground geologic formations such as saline or depleted oil and gas reservoirs. We have successfully captured and sold up to 7 million metric tons of CO2 per year extracted from natural gas streams in Wyoming for enhanced oil recovery since 1986. Through widespread application on fixed sources, such as power plants, the technologies involved in CCS could be an integral part of achieving global goals regarding climate change over the next century. However, the high cost associated with capturing CO2 from flue gas currently makes CCS uneconomical for power plants where the largest CO2 reduction potential exists. ExxonMobil’s Corporate Strategic Research team is investigating materials and systems that could bring the cost down. We believe applying our experience in CCS for enhanced oil and natural gas production could lead to competitive, market-based solutions that include natural gas-fired power plants. Even so, we do not anticipate CCS becoming broadly applicable over the next few decades.