Carbon: how to make the most of it

Josephine d'Hiriart from Tecpetrol joined Hernán Milberg from Techint E&C to give a virtual talk on Carbon Capture and Storage.

The Techint Group’s presentation on Carbon Capture and Storage was given online on July 5, hosted by Argentine Oil and Gas Institute’s Production and Reserves Development Committee (IAPG, in Spanish) and the Energy Committee of the Technical Department from the Argentine Engineers’ Center (CAI, in Spanish) within the framework of the joint IAPG-CAI Cycles.

First to take the floor was Hernán Milberg, Energy Transition Manager at Techint E&C, who discussed the carbon capture process (CCS), using the technologies currently available. “We’ve created the Energy Transition Directorate in the Group to work on ways of decarbonizing the industrial activities carried out by Tenaris, Tecpetrol and Ternium, including research into renewable energies and carbon capture.”

“It’s estimated that carbon capture could reduce emissions by up to seven billion tons of CO2 a year,” Milberg went on. “In industrial plants, it can be removed using a post-combustion process and can also be extracted from the air itself, thanks to as-yet very expensive technologies. It can be eliminated at the pre-combustion stage or by using oxy combustion, which requires entirely new plants, also very costly.”

Josefina d'HiriartReservoir Geologist at Tecpetrol.

Hernán was followed by Josefina d'Hiriart, a Reservoir Geologist at Tecpetrol, who focused on what can be done with captured CO2. It’s estimated that 40 million tons of CO2 are currently being captured around the world, a thousand times less than what is emitted per year. Much of it is stored in deep, geological formations known as ‘complex storage’ which must comply with two key requirements: “A reservoir rock, with the capacity and porosity to store carbon and be permeable enough to permit the passage of fluids, and a seal rock able to guarantee the confinement and integrity of this great reserve. It should lie between 800 and 1,000 meters deep, the safest point for CO2 storage.”

At the moment, the countries which most need to develop their decarbonization strategies are the U.S., China, Russia and Australia. Argentina does not have this level of urgency, although it is already taking its first steps: “A map is being drawn up of the country, providing information on the main areas with CO2 storage potential, which will enable more work to be done in this area."

Both Josefina and Hernán agreed that the key to positioning Argentina in the carbon capture and storage business lies in encouraging industries to work with each other, fostering technological innovation and creating economic incentives. For Milberg, we are at a crucial point, as, “there are different aspects that we must tackle. We need technological innovation and the will to work in synergy, because we must be able to share knowledge throughout the industry to ensure that we all move towards decarbonization together. Finally, we must pluck up the courage to go ahead and try things out! Remember that barely a few years ago, renewable energy seemed to be a very complex subject and today, it’s being developed in all kinds of areas."

Josefina, for her part, concluded with a reflection on what lies around the corner: “There are great opportunities ahead, but we must analyze what resources are available to us so we can explore our future possibilities constructively. It’s essential to ensure that there is a regulatory framework supported by economic incentives to promote project development. We can see that this is what is working in other parts of the world.” She concluded optimistically that: “We are still in time, we’re making the right moves and we have the resources. We know it’s essential to be prepared and take advantage of all the opportunities that arise.”

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