Last February, ExxonMobil announced it would further expand its only active carbon capture and storage (CCS) operation in the United States, located at a gas processing facility in LaBarge, Wyoming. Shute Creek is the world’s largest CCS project and has been operational for over 30 years. Although the oil giant publicly touts carbon capture as a “proven” climate solution, its own early foray reveals just how flimsy of a fix the technology really is — and how expensive, both for taxpayers and the climate.
For starters, at Exxon’s Shute Creek, nearly all of the CO2 separated from the extracted fossil gas either has been sold, for a profit, to other drillers to use for squeezing out hard-to-recover oil elsewhere (a process called enhanced oil recovery) or vented back into the atmosphere. Only 3 percent of the Wyoming project’s CO2 has been geologically stored in the same formation from which the original gas was extracted, according to estimates from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).