September 25, 2017 / 10:30 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. energy secretary asks oil industry to study carbon capture technology

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry asked an oil industry advisory council on Monday to help find ways for oil drillers to exploit technology that captures carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, by injecting the carbon dioxide into the ground to help drill for oil.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry waves after addressing the media in Mexico City, Mexico July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero - RC17974F3D70

Perry, whose department has cut funding for research into ways to make carbon capture and utilization technology commercially viable, said he wanted to hear from industry how to widely deploy the “exciting” technology.

“Integrating technology and deploying CCUS (carbon capture utilization and storage technology) at scale still remains a commercial challenge,” Perry said at a meeting of the National Petroleum Council, a 200-member group of industry representatives that advises the energy secretary. He spoke beside Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Perry asked the council to undertake the study as part of a broader review of the country’s oil and gas transportation infrastructure for the first time in over 15 years, which he said was in need of major investment.

CO2 pipelines would be used to move captured carbon from a coal plant to oil fields where the emissions could be pumped into the ground to extract oil.

The former Texas governor said carbon capture and utilization had “exciting potential” and asked the industry group to offer policy and R&D recommendations.

He touted the Petro Nova CCUS project in his home state, which will capture over 5,000 tons of CO2 per day for enhanced oil recovery.

President Donald Trump proposed slashing the budget of the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy, which leads CCS research, by 56 percent to $280 million for the next fiscal year.

Perry also responded to an environmental activist in the audience who interrupted the opening of the panel by questioning doubts by Perry and Zinke about the severity of climate change, accusing them of “killing people” by ignoring its impact.

The energy secretary addressed the question after the man was escorted out of the room for talking too long.

Perry said the oil industry was “saving lives” by bringing energy access to developing countries.

“This industry is leading the world in affecting the climate ... in a positive way,” he said.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney

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