To save this beautiful planet and ourselves from a self-made apocalypse, we need to not only stop stuffing the atmosphere full of asphyxiating emissions, but also actively remove carbon from the atmosphere. This has sparked a race to create the most efficient carbon-ensnaring machines. But, surprisingly, an oil company has become one of the major payers in this world after investing over a billion dollars in carbon capture technology. Surely, this is a good thing. An oil company taking responsibility for its planetary sins. But no, as it turns out, they are using it to justify oil expansion, which flies in the face of science, practicality and economics. What’s worse is the US government has paid $500 million into this delusional pseudoscience. However, there is a chance this could be a good thing…
Okay, so let’s start at the beginning. A few days ago, the Texas oil and gas producer Occidental paid Carbon Engineering Ltd $1.1 billion to develop and build several carbon capture sites for them. In total, Occidental aims to have 100 carbon capture sites in its control, running all year round, pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and burying it underground. More on why they did this in a minute.
Way back in November 2021, congress agreed to a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; within this legislation was a $1.2 billion fund for Direct Air Capture (DAC) facilities. Last Friday, it was announced that up to $500 million from this fund would be awarded to Occidental and Climeworks (who is the industry leader in DAC technology and roll-out).
So, why is this all so bad?
Well, oil companies don’t need government help to fix their environmental damage, especially right now. In 2022, the oil industry had its highest-ever profits. The five largest private sector oil and gas companies: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and TotalEnergies, had combined profits of $195 billion! That is nearly 120% more than the previous year and the highest level in the industry’s history. Needless to say, they can afford to sink serious money into carbon capture and don’t need yet more support from governments to do so.