Occidental Petroleum on Monday said it selected Australian engineering firm Worley to design a renewable fuels manufacturing facility in Canada that will use carbon dioxide captured from the air. 

The “direct air capture-to-fuels” facility in British Columbia, under development by Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Huron Clean Energy, is expected to be the first commercial-scale project of its kind. The project, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2023 and be operational by 2026, is expected to produce up to 26.4 million gallons of ultra-low carbon fuel for the Canadian market. It's aimed at helping reduce the carbon footprint of hard-to-decarbonize industries, such as marine, aviation, rail and truck transportation. 

“We are proud to partner with Carbon Engineering and Huron on the Air To Fuels project and pleased that Worley will join the team,” said Richard Jackson, president over operations for Oxy’s U.S. onshore resources and carbon management. “We selected Worley based on our experience working with them and believe their method of driving innovation within their company will advance the development of the Air To Fuels facility.”

The carbon capture and renewable fuels facility comes as Oxy is looking to transform itself into a carbon management company amid growing public pressure over climate change. The Houston independent oil giant company is developing its first direct-air carbon capture facility in the Permian Basin of West Texas, which will be capable of removing up to 1 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere a year. 

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures also is working with Worley to develop its Permian direct-air capture facility, expected to start construction next year. 

“We believe that’s a gap that nobody else is filling,” Oxy CEO Vicki Hollub said Friday of the company’s carbon capture ambitions. “The transition will take some time, but over the next 10 to 15 years, I think we’ll make a lot of progress toward becoming a carbon management company and a go-to company for those that need (carbon) offsets.” 

While many European oil majors are responding to climate risks by shifting investments from fossil fuels to wind and solar power, American oil giants are investing in carbon capture and storage facilities in hopes of reducing emissions and keeping fossil fuels viable in a low-carbon future. 

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Friday set a national target to develop a network of carbon capture facilities that could remove a gigaton of greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere. The move comes as global leaders are meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 United Nations climate summit. 

Other oil giants are investing heavily in carbon capture technologies.

Exxon Mobil, the nation’s largest oil company, last month said it plans to increase its investments in low-carbon projects by four-fold over previous plans. The company in February said it would invest $3 billion in carbon capture, and in April floated a $100 billion proposal to build a carbon capture and storage hub in Houston, where the company and its partners hope to capture carbon dioxide from industrial facilities in the Ship Channel and bury them underground in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Exxon last month announced a $400 million expansion of its carbon capture and storage capacity at the company’s LaBarge, Wyo., natural gas and helium facility, which will capture up to 1 million additional metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, on top of the 6 to 7 million metric tons it already captures annually. The company also is developing carbon capture projects in Europe, and has set its sights on Asia, where it plans to announce projects in the near future. 

Houston Chronical

Written By Paul Takahashi