Abu Dhabi is the main oil producer in the UAE, pumping around 2.3 million barrels per day. It controls nearly 92 billion barrels of proven crude reserves and 6.5 trillion cubic metres of natural gas, accounting for nearly eight per cent and five per cent of the world's oil and gas wealth respectively.
The excessive fossil energy consumption, the high carbon and GHG emission and the need to effectively recover the country's onshore oil fields, prompted the UAE government to initiate the world's most expensive carbon capture and storage project. Sited in Abu Dhabi being a major oil and gas producer that is heavily reliant on these fossil energy sources to produce its electricity and operate its factories.
The project which is part of the Mardar initiative will contribute to largely reducing CO2 emission in the emirate. It will cost more than US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn), and is expected to remove in excess of five million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year from the emirate's air and push them back into oil reservoirs deep underneath the emirate's desert, Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco), one of the largest oil firms in the world and the emirate's main onshore oil producing company will be able to increase recovery rates from its hydrocarbon wells.
The project involves the construction of two carbon capture plants near the main power facilities in Taweela north of Abu Dhabi city and at the Emirates Aluminium Company (Emal) in Mussaffah just at the eastern entrance of the capital. The construction of the plants will be completed in 2015 but there will be a second stage afterwards. The locations were selected because of the large rate of consumption of oil and gas at those sites.
Carbon and other gases will be captured at those sites. Those gases will be separated from CO2 and released into air as they are not harmful to the atmosphere. CO2 will then be kept in compressors, where water is separated and removed. Afterwards, CO2 will be transferred via a 500km high-pressure pipeline network and sent back into oil reservoirs underground.
For this reason, the project will have a dual effect: it will largely reduce CO2 emission in the atmosphere and at the same time help push crude oil out of the reservoir. This means it will enhance the oilfield's recovery rate.
After completing the CO2 capture project, more than 1million people around Abu Dhabi will bask in a much healthier and cleaner atmosphere, thereby reducing the concentration of GHG in the atmosphere. And the stored, compressed CO2 would help in enhancing the country's oilfield recovery which is a major boost to the country's role as one of the major hydrocarbon resources producers in the region.