The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and clean energy company Masdar announced Sunday that they will collaborate to develop commercial-scale carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) projects in the Middle East. Although some smaller carbon capture facilities already exist in the region, the recent agreement represents the largest attempt to date. Together, the two entities awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract worth over over $122 million to Dodsal Group to build the groundbreaking facility. Masdar officials claim the captured C02 will be used to increase efficiency of the country’s oil extraction operations while reducing emissions.

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CCUS is a process whereby C02 is extracted from the atmosphere and placed into carbon storage areas such as underground rock layers and terrestrial ecosystems.

Located in Abu Dhabi, the first CCUS project will capture carbon from Emirates Steel, the UAE’s largest steelmaking facility. The CO2 will then be compressed and transported along a 50 km pipeline to oil fields operated by ADNOC. Finally, ADNOC will inject the CO2 into oil fields to enhance oil recovery, while storing the injected CO2 permanently underground. Previously, natural gas has been used to help squeeze every last bit of oil from local drilling operations. By using captured C02 instead, Masdar hopes to reserve the natural gas for more pressing needs while sequestering carbon at the same time.

“CCUS presents a viable technology for energy-intensive industries to lower their carbon footprint,” said Engineer Saeed G. Al Romaithi, CEO of Emirates Steel in a recent press release. “By capturing and eventually storing our CO2 stream, Emirates Steel sets an example of supporting Abu Dhabi’s sustainability objectives through operating environmental friendly heavy industries within the emirate of Abu Dhabi.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), up to 20 percent of global CO2 emissions will need to be mitigated by carbon, capture and storage projects in the power and industrial sectors by 2050. To meet this goal, the IEA estimates that 100 carbon capture projects would have to be developed by 2020 and over 3,000 by 2050, requiring an investment of an estimated $ 3 trillion by 2050.

Officials estimate that the CCUS project will sequester up to 800,000 tonnes of CO2 annually,the equivalent of removing 170,000 cars from the road. Completion is set for 2016.

Images via Masdar and BigSkyC02