Erik Dalhuijsen (an oil industry expert, climate change activist and carbon capture advocate) told MSPs at the Scottish Parliament that he believed that the focus on carbon captured was being used as a justification for the growth natural gas, despite the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption and reach net zero targets.
His comments came after Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour MSP, asked experts at Holyrood’s net zero committee how they would respond to concerns around the fact many supporters of carbon capture and storage (CCS) also back new oil and gas fields.
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Cambo oil field: The decision to ‘pause’ controversial project is a further indication that…
She said many activists and members of the public view large oil companies’ support of CCS with suspicion and could delay the just transition away from fossil fuels.
Mr Dalhuijsen said carbon capture posed a “huge risk” and that he was “convinced the whole CCS push is driven by natural gas growth”, due to large oil companies having strategies for gas growth.
He said: “The only reason is that if you push blue hydrogen, you can sell more gas. You can make more gas if you push CCS, and power it with natural gas.
“If you use renewables to power CCS, you can take away the renewables budget that is needed to remove fossil fuels. This is a big risk.
CCS must be eliminated from the oil industry. Although the CCS knowledge is available to those who work in the oil industry it is not applicable to all oil companies. I think there needs to be a very clear separation between that.”
Mr Dalhuijsen said the strategy of maximising economic recovery of oil and gas (MER), and the support for the controversial Cambo oil field, had no “consideration for the climate crisis”.
Cambo’s project was stopped last week when Shell, one of its key backers pulled out.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine of CCS, University of Edinburgh, stated that although the oil industry has the technology and knowledge to make CCS work, a new environmental testing was necessary for new oil fields.
He said: “Can CCS be used to justify new oil fields? I think we have to be very careful here.”
He stated that if the North Sea is in rapid decline, which I am referring to five to ten year, it is not certain that those jobs will be available for those who are looking for renewable jobs. So we have to measure the pace of decline of the North Sea and try and mix that with the rate of increase of renewables, which of course could be accelerated.”
Prof Haszeldine that the Scottish cluster of carbon capture and storage, linked to the Acorn project off the coast of North East Scotland and Ineos’ plant in Grangemouth, had been asked to “run on the spot” by the UK Government.
Michael Matheson (the net zero Cabinet secretary) has asked the UK Government to reverse its decision and fully fund the Scottish cluster.