ADNOC powers decarbonisation drive with electrification and CCUS while curbing methane and boosting energy efficiency

UAE’s energy giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is rolling up its sleeves to deliver more energy with lower emissions by employing its key decarbonisation levers which encompass methane abatement, flaring reduction, energy efficiency, electrification of assets, and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).


Within its Advancing Towards Net Zero publication, ADNOC provides a roadmap of its net-zero journey, which spotlights its plans towards ensuring “an inclusive and orderly energy transition” by slashing its emissions footprint backed by an initial $15 billion decarbonisation investment in low-carbon solutions. Recently, the UAE’s giant brought forward its net-zero ambition to 2045 from 2050 and its aspiration to reach zero methane emissions by 2030.

In line with these goals, the company launched its Decarbonisation Technology Challenge, inviting players from across the globe to enter for a chance to win up to $1 million in piloting opportunities to demonstrate greenhouse gas-reducing potential, which would help advance ADNOC’s net-zero by 2045 ambition. To this end, ten finalists will be selected to present their technology to a panel of judges in the UAE in December 2023.

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“We’ve received submissions from emerging companies in 50 countries spanning six continents. Over the coming weeks, we’ll announce ten finalists who will be invited to the UAE to pitch their innovations to a panel of expert judges in December,” explained ADNOC.

The company continues to reduce its carbon footprint by decarbonising its operations, investing in renewables, building a hydrogen value chain, deploying climate technology solutions, and advancing nature-based solutions. ADNOC claims to be committed to both decarbonisation and growth of its low-carbon and renewable energy portfolio.

“We will do this through an integrated strategy, at the core of which is our focus on reducing our carbon intensity by 25 per cent by 2030 as an interim goal towards our net-zero ambition. We will continue to mature our abatement projects to ensure tangible and measurable progress, integration into our business plan and the strategic allocation of capital expenditure,” added ADNOC.

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The company’s data shows that it implemented over 40 projects in 2022, in addition to grid-imported power, that collectively resulted in an emissions reduction of 5.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) across its operations.  In addition, the firm achieved more than 19 million GJ in energy savings, underscoring its ongoing progress and efforts towards a 5 per cent energy improvement target by 2025.

The company’s $600-million waste heat recovery project is expected to yield 2,600 cubic meters of distillate water per hour and generate up to 230 megawatts of additional electricity, without any additional CO2 emissions by harnessing heat generated on-site to drive two steam-powered turbines at its general utility plant. This serves as the primary electricity and water source for the entire Al Ruwais Industrial City. Upon completion, the project will increase the site’s thermal efficiency by around 30 per cent, thereby alleviating pressure on the national grid.

With the methane menace being seen as an important factor in tackling climate change woes – given its higher contribution towards global warming when compared with carbon dioxide – ADNOC is putting the wheels in motion to deploy advanced technology to identify and eliminate these emissions. The firm’s 2022 methane emissions were 6 per cent lower than in 2021.

This was achieved by a reduction in flaring through the use of flare recovery compressor systems during turnarounds in gas processing plants; operational enhancements of rotating equipment for better energy efficiency; performing leak detection and repair (LDAR) surveys and repair interventions; and enhancing the accuracy levels of methane emission factors based on actual measurements.

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As a signatory to the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0, a multi-stakeholder initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, ADNOC is burning the midnight oil to slash methane emissions by piloting leak detection technologies such as satellite imaging, aerial drones and robotic inspectors equipped with advanced imaging sensors and laser dispersion spectroscopy. 

The deployment of such technological solutions is expected to pave the way towards reducing methane emissions through continuous measurement and rapid intervention. The UAE’s player sees electrification as a key enabler of decarbonisation. Due to this, ADNOC realised 100 per cent of its grid power supply from nuclear and solar energy sources since January 2022.

The firm is also working on a $3.8 billion sub-sea transmission network in the MENA region to connect its offshore operations to TAQA’s clean onshore power network, ensuring greater business and environmental benefits. Once it comes online, the project will potentially reduce the carbon footprint of ADNOC’s offshore operations by up to 50 per cent, replacing existing offshore gas turbine generators with power from the grid.

“We’re already working on a number of projects that will see us store or remove carbon dioxide permanently and safely – including the first fully sequestered CO2 injection well in a carbonate saline aquifer, and a pilot project to turn CO2 into rock. They are just the latest in a series of tangible actions we’re taking to build on our industry leadership in carbon management and decarbonise our operations at speed,” outlined ADNOC.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points out that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is a critical enabler for the world to achieve net-zero by mid-century. With this at the forefront, ADNOC has operated a commercial-scale CCUS facility – with the capacity to capture 800,000 tons of CO2 – at Al-Reyadah since 2016. The company intends to expand its capture capacity by over 500 per cent to around 5 million tons per year by 2030.

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To this end, ADNOC announced a final investment decision (FID) to develop – what is said to be – one of the largest carbon capture projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on Wednesday, 6 September 2023. This project, known as the Habshan CCUS project, will have the capacity to capture and permanently store 1.5 million tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide within geological formations deep underground. Upon completion, it will triple the UAE player’s installed carbon capture capacity to 2.3 mtpa, equivalent to removing over 500,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road per year.

Moreover, the project will be operated and maintained by ADNOC Gas on behalf of ADNOC and will entail carbon capture units at the Habshan gas processing plant, pipeline infrastructure, and a network of wells for CO2 injection. The CO2 will be permanently stored in reservoirs deep in the sub-surface through the deployment of closed-loop CO2 capture and reinjection technology at the well site.

Musabbeh Al Kaabi, ADNOC Executive Director of Low Carbon Solutions and International Growth, commented: “As ADNOC continues its transformation towards a lower carbon future, it is our intention to make further investments to significantly reduce our emissions, including in carbon capture and storage, and push the boundaries of innovation and technology with our partners, to build on our world-leading legacy and industry leadership in carbon management.”

Building on Al Reyadah, ADNOC believes that the Habshan carbon capture project could provide for enhanced oil recovery of low carbon-intensity barrels as well as the production of low-carbon feedstocks such as hydrogen, to help customers decarbonise their operations. Additionally, ADNOC and Occidental are working to assess potential investment opportunities in the UAE and the United States in both carbon capture and storage and direct air capture.

“As part of its longstanding decarbonisation drive, ADNOC currently acquires 100 per cent of its grid power from the Emirates Water and Electricity Company’s (EWEC) nuclear and solar sources, making the company the first major oil and gas company in the world to decarbonise its power at scale though an agreement of this kind,” underlined the UAE’s giant.

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ADNOC also plans to drive the growth of renewable energy and green hydrogen through its shareholding in the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), which is a renewable energy company, targeting a portfolio of more than 100 GW of renewable capacity and the production of one million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030.

While renewables are portrayed as the future, many also agree that oil and gas will be required for decades to come to fuel the transition process and meet global energy demands. Bearing this in mind, the UAE firm is working on ramping up its hydrocarbon production capacity, which includes plans to increase its crude oil production capacity to five million barrels per day by 2030.

With this in mind, ADNOC recently made arrangements with TotalEnergies and SOCAR to buy a 30 per cent participating interest in the Absheron gas field offshore Azerbaijan. As the world transitions to a low-carbon energy system, natural gas is expected to play a crucial role, thus, the UAE’s giant believes this investment further cements its position as a reliable supplier of lower-carbon energy.