EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Carbon capture and storage‘:

I find the whole saga of the CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) issue entirely distasteful.

The oil industry magnates and the coal industry giants must be laughing all the way to the bank and their shareholders must be agreeing with them that they can make a huge killing with dividends. This is another EU farce and the member states should stand back for a moment to consider this.

The facts are pretty plain:

1. Pumping catbon dioxide into oil-bearing and gas-bearing fields under the sea will help the greedy oil companies extract the last vestiges of these fuels from reserves paid for by taxpayers (and also bank-rolled by the public) who finance the EU for little net overall benefit.

2. Pumping the carbon dioxide into these underground areas will therefore result in more fossil fuels being extracted and burnt, thus creating even more greenhouse gases. The Mass Balance of these systems has already been done and it shows that for every 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide pumped into these reserves, 20 tonnes of oil (from those oil reserves) and 183 tonnes of gas (from those gas reserves) will be extracted. From these, the dissipation of carbon dioxide will be of the order of 400-500 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide, irrespective of the sulphur!

3. Then of course there is the issue that at least 50% of the available carbon dioxide pumped in to these aquifers will get to the surface in less than a year.

Think again EU – let’s not pretend that this is a good idea!

Carol Horner

Private citizen

Author :


  1. Another way of looking at it would be that the economic benefit of enhanced oil recovery will provide the necessary revenues to get carbon capture technologies deployed commercially, whereafter permanent storage in exhausted oilfields or saline aquifers could be undertaken. The geoligical structures that trapped oil and gas for millions of years are capable of trapping CO2 for similar periods of time. It would be nice to think that we can turn off oil consumption and move quickly to a no-carbon way of life but in reality we are faced with the practical problem of making that transition without a complete dislocation of our existing economic structures – damaging as they are.

  2. An integrated assessment of all aspects of the CCS chain and also the potential enhanced oil recovery with CO2 is necessary. In our study on CCS in comparison with renewables, we give an overview of CO2-EOR as potential starting point for CCS and its limitations. If you look at the entire lifecycle analysis, I agree with Carol that CO2-EOR leaves more CO2 in the atmosphere than without this application. For every tonne of injected CO2, about 4 tonnes CO2 are emitted to the atmosphere. So CO2-EOR is not a climate mitigation option.

    For further information please check

  3. “economic benefit of enhanced oil recovery will provide the necessary revenues to get carbon capture technologies deployed commercially”

    Do oil companies, that are already making all-time record profits with high oil prices, really need more money ?

    From a climate perspective, the problem with oil is not that there is not enough, but that there is too much compared to the carrying capacity of our atmosphere. We already exceed critical concentrations of 350ppm CO2 and are on a track that is above the A1FI emissions scenario, the worst case scenario imagined by IPCC. Squeezing reservoirs out until they produce their last drop of oil, which is the objective of enhanced oil recovery (EOR), is of economic interest to oil company shareholders and contributes to generating more CO2 in the transport and space heating sectors, that will amplify climate change. It is not of interest of the climate and the children of least developed countries that will be most affected by the impacts of climate change.

    Besides, CO2 is neither gas nor oil, and the belief that CO2 can be stored as safely as oil and gas in depleted reservoirs is not to my knowledge backed by science, instead it is rather the opposite : CO2 molecules are smaller than gas molecules (i.e. mainly CH4), not to mention oil, and can leak through small cracks in reservoir’s cap rock. These cracks are amplified in deflated reservoirs (ceiling is no more maintained in position due to reduced pressure). Besides CO2 can also mix with underground water, be transported with it, and released in the atmosphere at a further location. Water, acidified through CO2, can also attack certain types of caprocks and increase the size of cracks.

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