CNOOC commissions China's first CCS project

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has commissioned the country’s first offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project as part of the Enping 15-1 oilfield, Asia’s largest offshore oil production platform located in the Pearl River Mouth Basin, about 190 kilometers southwest of Hong Kong. It achieves zero carbon emissions by capturing and processing the large volume of carbon dioxide produced from the oilfield and injecting the greenhouse gas into an inverted dome-shaped saline water layer at a depth of around 800 meters under the seabed for long-term storage, according to CNOOC. The project can store about 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year and more than 1.5 million tons in total, which is equivalent to planting nearly 14 million trees, according to CNOOC, China’s largest offshore oil and gas producer.

The operation of the project will support CNOOC’s efforts to increase reserves and help it to pursue green and low-carbon development, and “fills the gap in China’s offshore carbon storage technology”, according to the company.

“The successful commissioning of the project demonstrates that CNOOC has a complete set of technology and systems for the capturing, processing, injection, sequestration and monitoring of carbon dioxide at offshore oil and gas fields,” the company said. As the world is on track for an expected temperature overshoot by reaching 2.7 degrees of global warming by 2100, significantly higher than the 1.5 degrees goal set by the Paris Agreement, the world is looking to technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) to contain surging global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There were 61 new CCS facilities added to the project pipeline in 2022, meaning global CCS capacity under development has increased to 244 million tons per annum (mtpa), a 44% year-on-year increase, according to a report by the Global CCS Institute last October. China, the world’s largest GHG emitter, has also attached great importance to the country’s CCS development to support its goals of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2060.

The platform, put into operation at the end of last year, has a daily peak crude production capacity of 7,000 tons. However, the amount of carbon dioxide produced during the oilfield development remains high. If the carbon dioxide is treated in a conventional way, it will not only corrode offshore platforms and pipelines, but also increase carbon dioxide emissions, CNOOC said. Luo Zuoxian, Head of Intelligence and Research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute, said that technological breakthroughs in carbon capture and storage are among the most effective ways for China to achieve deep cuts in emissions, offering a way to reduce emissions in sectors that are hard to decarbonize. Zhu Yi, Senior Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, a market monitor, said that carbon capture and storage is an essential part of the solution for China to achieve a carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. According to Shell, China, with an estimated 2,400 gigaton in storage capacity, has significant geological potential for storing carbon, second only to the United States, the China Daily and the Global Times report.