Big Oil Betting On Carbon Removal Tech Amidst Global Environmental Concerns

Global Warming
Smoke and steam billows from a coal-fired power plant (Photo: Reuters)

Some of the world's largest fossil fuel companies are now looking into new carbon removal technologies to mitigate their environmental footprints in the midst of continuing global warming concerns.

According to reports, Occidental Petroleum, Chevron, and BHP are now investing millions of dollars in a new tech startup that is currently developing a new carbon removal system that may solve the worsening global climate change crisis.

The Canadian company, called Carbon Engineering, is reportedly on the brink of developing a breakthrough method in removing large quantities of carbon from the atmosphere.

The firm is reportedly in the process of testing out its system in a small lumber town just north of Vancouver. The system includes a fan that can suck in large amounts of air, which is then scrubbed clean through an extraction process that removes carbon dioxide. The extracted gas can then be buried or converted into synthetic fuel.

The slew of new investments from large oil companies has been seen by some analysts as a way for these companies to remain relevant and profitable amidst a world now concerned with global warming.

The new carbon-reduction initiatives are likely the companies' way of mitigating loss as renewable energy sources continue to become more affordable. Fossil-fuel companies are also now facing a growing number of increasingly strict environmental regulations that significantly hamper their operations.

Environmental lawsuits are also now forcing these companies to invest more in clean energy to offset their carbon footprints.

According to BHP's vice president for sustainability and climate change, Fiona Wild, the company has already invested more than US$6 million in Carbon Engineering.

Wild adds that the investment is a clear indication that the company does recognize the risk that climate change poses in all economic sectors and that it is doing what it can to mitigate that risk.

Chevron and Occidental both have not revealed how much they have already invested in Carbon Engineering, but the Canadian firm has revealed that it has managed to raise around US$68 million in its latest funding round.

Despite investments in carbon mitigating technologies, most oil companies are still actively drilling for oil and gas in ever-expanding territories. Some critics have even called the recent investments as nothing more than a public-relations stunt.

However, some oil companies have announced their plans to completely change. Royal Dutch Shell and BP, for example, have already announced plans for significant emission reductions in the next few years. Equinor ASA has even announced that it will be increasing its spending on developing clean energy systems by more than 20 percent by 2030. 

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