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Adnoc says revised emissions target is ‘strong step’ forward

Woman in forest with sun shining Pexels/Krivec Ales
Adnoc is looking to increase its carbon capture capabilities to the equivalent of a forest twice the size of the UAE
  • Investing billions to cut in-house emissions
  • Increasing CO2 capture capacity six-fold
  • Helping clients move to renewables

Adnoc, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, aims to be “net-zero operations” in terms of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, five years earlier than originally planned.

The government-owned energy company is investing billions of dollars to cut its in-house carbon emissions.

Crucially, its targets exclude emissions created by customers consuming its oil and gas, although the company told AGBI it was also helping its clients to transition to renewables.

On its website, Adnoc says it is making “significant progress” towards its emissions reduction goals through increasing energy efficiency, methane management, carbon capture and storage, and electrification.

Since January 2022, Adnoc has derived all its on-grid electricity from nuclear and solar energy.

It is building a $3.8 billion subterranean electricity transmission network to connect its offshore operations with “clean” onshore power from the Abu Dhabi government-run company Taqa. Once completed, it says, this will reduce the carbon footprint of Adnoc’s offshore operations by up to half.

Herwig Schuster, a Greenpeace strategist based in Vienna, said: “If Adnoc uses solar energy to produce oil and gas products for the time being, that’s a positive step, but the company has to stop fossil oil and gas production by around 2050.

“Adnoc can only succeed if it develops renewable energy instead. It could invest massively in renewable synthetic fuels, although these could never be a one-to-one replacement for oil in terms of production volumes.”

Adnoc’s Al-Reyadah carbon capture and storage (CCUS) plant, which launched operations in 2016, captures 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually from production at Emirates Steel Industries and injects this into disused onshore oil fields for permanent storage.

The company will increase its CO2 capture capacity more than six-fold to 5 million tonnes per year (mtpa) by 2030, which will be collected mostly from its gas processing plants. This will provide the same amount of carbon capture as a forest twice the size of the UAE.

As part of this ambition, in September Adnoc approved a 1.5 mtpa CCUS project at its Habshan gas plant.

Oil production also produces natural gas, which contains methane, as a by-product. Rather than collect and sell this gas, some producers simply burn – or flare – it at source.

Methane is 28 times more potent than CO2 in trapping heat in the atmosphere, the US Environmental Protection Agency says.

The UAE has one of the lowest gas-flaring volumes among oil-producing countries, the World Bank says. Adnoc cut its methane emissions by 6 percent in 2022 and aims to be net zero methane by 2030.

Adnoc says the carbon intensity of its oil and gas production is 7 kg of CO2 equivalent per barrel of oil equivalent, which it claims is among the lowest in the industry.