The primary goal of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide is one of several “greenhouse gases” that contribute to the warming of Earth's climate. These gases linger in the atmosphere and trap the heat of the sun, keeping the Earth at a habitable temperature for plants and animals. Under normal circumstances, this is what enables the Earth to regulate its climate and create ideal conditions for life. However, this natural process has be supercharged by an artificial excess of man-made greenhouse gases, starting with the process of global industrialization since the 19th Century and continuing into the 20th and 21st, in which fossil fuels make up the backbone of our world's economic and technological systems.
Common greenhouse gases include methane, CO2, water vapor, and nitrous oxide. Human activity primarily contributes to higher concentrations of methane and CO2. Although methane has a more pronounced short-term effect of global temperatures, it quickly dissipates whereas CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for far longer and retains heat, which prevents the Earth's climate from regulating naturally. Thus, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and existing CO2 in the atmosphere is a central component of fighting climate change.
Understanding the challenge of reducing global CO2 emissions and the scale of the endeavor provides insight into the role the oil and gas industry can play in mitigating anthropomorphic emissions. Regulatory elements are in place in many regions to allow CCUS projects to leverage the geological opportunities, existing petroleum industry technology and workforce expertise to achieve reduction targets.