I spent the last few days at the eleventh annual Carbon Capture Utilization & Sequestration Conference (CCUS)  in Pittsburgh.
For its first 10 years, it was the CCS conference, focused primarily on advancing efforts to capture and permanently sequester carbon emissions underground. This nascent technology is absolutely critical if we are going to continue burning fossil fuels and have any hope of averting dangerous climate change.
This year the conference organizers added “Utilization” to the title. This addition reflects a new reality: in the absence of strong climate policy, the key driver of CCS  innovation is the utilization of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR). This is a little-known technique in which CO2 (usually drawn from naturally occurring underground reservoirs) is injected into declining oil fields to boost their output. It now accounts for about 6 percent of domestic U.S. oil production.
Those of us focused on climate change think about CO2 as the major greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. But to those in the enhanced oil recovery industry, CO2 is an essential commodity they need for their business. And, somewhat ironically, from their vantage point, CO2 is in short supply.
Throughout the conference, speakers and discussion sessions focused on the scientific, technical, business and policy issues surrounding CO2-EOR. A few highlights were:
The Conference’s subtitle was apt: “Building a Business Case for Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration…Good for the Economy & the Environment.”
This blog post is cross-posted on NEORI's website .
Judi Greenwald is Vice President for Technology and Innovation at C2ES.