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Oman among Top 5 MENA states with sizable CO2 capture potential

A new report by the International Energy Forum (IEF) – the world’s largest grouping of energy ministers – has named the Sultanate of Oman among the Top 5 economies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with ambitious programmes for Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) as part of their Net Zero strategies.

The Riyadh-based IEF, which counts 73 energy ministers of producing and consuming countries in its ranks, also listed the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar in the region’s Top 5 destinations for CCUS-based investments.

CCUS encompasses a suite of technologies that support the capture of planet-warming CO2, generally from large point sources like power generation or industrial facilities that use either fossil fuels or biomass as fuel. The captured CO2 is compressed and transported to be used in a range of applications, or injected into deep geological formations such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or saline aquifers.

“The role of CCUS is particularly important in regions such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where oil and gas industries’ technological prowess is a significant enabler in the deployment of clean tech solutions, such as CCUS to reduce GHG emissions. Several countries in the MENA region have already begun to invest in CCUS technology due to its effectiveness in removing emissions from the oil and gas industry and related production processes,” said the IEF in the report.

In Oman, CCUS related projects announced to date comprise two small-scale ventures and one project with an unspecified capacity, according to the IEF report. It noted however the importance of parts of northern Oman as potential sites for CO2 storage. Most promising is the Oman Ophiolite, which has a storage capacity of an estimated 8.2 gigatonnes of CO2, although the storage efficiency of the Ophiolite needs to be further assessed, it said.

Importantly, the report envisions a promising future for CCUS in the MENA region. Being already a leading energy exporting region, CCUS could allow MENA to boost its exports with decarbonized energy, delivering a double benefit of supporting the economy while supporting climate targets. Current projections estimate that new market opportunities in hydrogen export and CO2 storage services could add between $15.5 bn and $44 bn in gross value added (GVA) to the GCC in 2050. Job opportunities would also be significant with estimated 87,000 to 245,000 direct and indirect new jobs created by 2050, it added.

According to Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals, the country is expected to abate 16.3 million tons of CO2 annually via CCUS by 2050. In support of this goal, the Ministry signed last November a Terms of Reference (TOR) agreement with multiple oil and gas industry stakeholders to establish a regulatory framework for blue hydrogen and CCUS policies in Oman.

Other private-led initiatives are also underway in support of CCUS deployment. Notable is the case of energy major Occidental of Oman (Oxy) signed a MoU with OQ Gas Networks SAOC (OQGN) last November to jointly study the potential for CCUS projects in Oman. The two companies pledged to explore the development and deployment of CCUS in conjunction with enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects at Oxy’s production assets in Oman.