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Direct air capture, carbon capture trends: CERAWeek Conversations

15 October 2021 IHS Markit Energy Expert

The carbon capture business could reach $3 trillion to $5 trillion annually, Vicki Hollub, president and CEO of Occidental Petroleum, said in the latest episode of CERAWeek Conversations.

"We think ultimately it's going to generate as much earnings and cash flow as our oil business does today. We believe it's a long-lasting business," she said.

In a conversation with Daniel Yergin, vice chairman, IHS Markit, Hollub and Chris Ashton, CEO and managing director of Worley, discussed their partnership to build a large-scale direct air capture facility in the Permian Basin. A final investment decision could come in the first quarter of 2022, with startup in 2024, they said.

All the component parts of direct air capture are established, Ashton said. "It's about bringing together the component parts of it in a way that's new," he said. "One of the big contributors to addressing the economic viability of this is the fact that we are working together in an integrated, innovative way."

Integration of those parts is critical—and advantageous, he said. "So many inefficiencies exist in the way that traditionally supply chains interact ... Once the direct air capture technology that we're working on together is up and running and we clearly demonstrate that it works and is viable, the scaling opportunities are immense," he adds.

"This has to happen in a big way," Hollub says in discussing Occidental's plans to build up to 12 facilities in the Permian, along with ambitions to ultimately build facilities elsewhere in the US and internationally. "That's the only way we can cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius."

The Permian alone has the potential for storage of 150 gigatons of carbon, Hollub said.

In addition to carbon capture, Hollub and Ashton shared their thoughts on the state of US shale production amid tightening oil markets and rising prices; new challenges and strategies for large-scale capital projects in the energy transition; the potential for hydrogen; and more.

"We have to pivot the discussion, the discussion that's across all sectors of the industry all around the world. We all need to come together and collaborate to fight emissions," Hollub concluded. "The fight against fossil fuels is wasting too much energy and too much time. We need to partner with those that want to kill fossil fuels, help them understand that what we really want to do is kill emissions."

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