Carbon capture and sequestration — taking carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities, and shoving them underground — represents one of the higher stakes bets in the fight against climate change. It’s unproven at large scale, yet deemed essential by the International Energy Agency and Energy Secretary Steven Chu as a tool for reducing greenhouse gas emission.
But it won’t come cheap. Case in point: General Electric has just announced that its Oil & Gas division has won a $400 million contract from Chevron to supply equipment for the energy behemoth’s liquified natural gas production and carbon sequestration at a site in Western Australia. According to GE, it will be the largest carbon dioxide injection project in the world.
This isn’t GE’s first involvement in the so-called Gorgon Project, which is scheduled to begin producing gas in 2014 and won approval from the Australian government last month. The conglomerate got its foot in the door with an agreement in May 2008 for it to supply subsea support services, such as pipeline termination structures, control modules, system integration testing and installations. GE’s equipment will be used to pump carbon dioxide removed from the natural gas back into the sites it’s extracted it from, and also cool the gas into liquid form for transport.
Estimated to cost a whopping AUD$43 billion ($40 billion) for just the first phase of development, Gorgon is a joint venture between the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron (50 percent interest), ExxonMobil and Shell (25 percent each). While a growing number of startups are working to capitalize on the coming carbon capture boom — notably using algae tech and other bio-based carbon “recyclers” — it’s these types of global supermajors that are first in line to benefit from the billions of dollars slated for investment in carbon capture projects over the next five years. After all, as Emerging Energy Research pointed out earlier this year, they already own the tools of the trade.