European nations have some abitious carbon capture investments lined up. This is an area that GCC's oil producing economies can bring in considerable influence. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Despite the many ongoing attempts to combat fossil fuel usage, particularly oil, and their associated emissions like carbon dioxide, the issue has become a global battleground between producers and consumers.

The conflict has even seeped into electoral combats in the West. The former US President Donald Trump, a staunch supporter of oil companies, has solicited increased donations from these entities for his campaign. In contrast, President Joe Biden takes a stance against the activities of these companies.

Amidst this conflict, new technologies play a crucial role in influencing the balance between opposing sides. Oil-producing countries, in collaboration with others, are seeking solutions to mitigate the adverse effects of fossil fuel consumption. They are doing so by absorbing these consequences and addressing their impact to prolong the lifespan of oil and gas usage, maximise their benefits, and position them competitively against renewable and clean energy sources.

In this regard, the Netherlands, which aims to reduce emissions by 55 per cent in 2030 compared to 1990, has taken a significant leap in utilising advanced technologies to capture carbon emissions, particularly those resulting from combustion, storage, and fuel usage across sectors.

In April, it commenced the construction of a ‘Porthos’ facility, slated to be the largest carbon storage facility in Europe, at a cost of 1.3 billion euros. The facility aims to sequester 37 million tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the emissions from 9 million cars a year. This initiative promises to notably reduce pollution levels stemming from hydrocarbon fuel usage, thus safeguarding the environment, including the ozone layer.

The decline of the ozone layer has contributed to significant environmental and climatic disruptions, resulting in profound losses and material damages. This progress is particularly significant for oil-producing states, including the GCC.

An antidote for environmental protection

By implementing carbon capture and storage technologies, these nations can mitigate many of the environmental criticisms directed at oil for its pollution effects. Such advances can reduce the pressure on oil consumption and diminish the accusations against it. Consequently, this allows for the continued development of production reservoirs and the extension of their lifespan, underscoring the considerable economic benefits for producing countries.

Harnessing this wealth enables further economic progress and social welfare. The technology also provides a formidable tool for oil-exporting nations, which have faced substantial criticism over the past two decades due to pollution stemming from oil consumption. Pressure from environmental advocates, notably the Green parties, has led to the cessation of production in certain oil fields in Europe and the US, particularly those producing shale oil. This carries additional environmental repercussions.

The adoption of carbon capture technology effectively addresses many of these criticisms, enabling oil-producing countries to bolster production. This holds immense economic significance, presenting expansive opportunities for development.

Consequently, oil-producing nations must prioritise carbon capture storage technology through strategic initiatives, supporting domestic R&D efforts, and international institutions dedicated to this cause, such as the Global CCS Institute in Australia.

They could provide soft loans to fund more carbon capture and utilisation facilities. Currently, there are 26 new facilities being implemented and 325 more under study, underscoring the global commitment to this technology—a topic that was also addressed at COP28 in Dubai.

Gulf states can provide financial muscle

In the Gulf, a collaborative strategy can be formulated to capture carbon emissions from existing industries such as cement and iron production, as well as from vehicles. This captured carbon can then be utilized in various industries, including fertilizers, industrial gases, and certain types of fuel.

Within this framework, GCC countries can also assist other nations in implementing carbon capture projects. This is especially feasible considering the GCC's ongoing contributions to numerous renewable energy projects worldwide.

The strategy should feature support programs aimed at achieving net zero emissions by 2050, which is expected to yield substantial economic, health, and environmental benefits.