Essar teams with Elessent for Stanlow carbon capture

The UK arm of Indian oil conglomerate Essar is partnering with Elessent Clean Technologies to deliver carbon capture capabilities for its Stanlow refinery at Ellesmere Port.

Stanlow refinery from the air
Stanlow refinery from the air - Parrot of Doom via CC

Essar Oil UK announced plans to decarbonise refinery operations at Stanlow, one of Europe's largest oil refineries, in November 2022. According to the company, a total of $1.2bn will be invested in reducing site emissions by up to 95 per cent in the coming years. It’s claimed that Elessent’s BELCO gas cleaning technology will help cut CO2 by around one million tonnes per year, while switching from natural gas to hydrogen as a refinery fuel source will cut a further one million tonnes.

“It’s great to have our final licensor technology provider in place as we move into the next phase of our decarbonisation strategy,”  Deepak Maheshwari, CEO of Essar Oil UK, said in a statement. “With an investment of $1.2bn, Essar Oil UK is positioned to be the world’s first low carbon refinery. Elessent Clean Technologies is a valuable partner in our plan to reduce our refinery emissions by 95 per cent using the BELCO scrubbing technology.”

There is widespread scientific consensus that a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels is essential for humanity to get back on track with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Concurrently, it is important to reduce the impact of oil and gas operations, with global demand yet to peak. According to the International Energy Agency, oil and gas operations account for around 15 per cent of all energy-related emissions, equivalent to 5.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, there are concerns that oil and gas companies are focusing primarily on reducing the emissions of their operations rather than preparing for a world where there is less demand for their products. At the recent COP28 in Dubai, much of the discussion centred around how the oil and gas industry could become more efficient, despite a final agreement including a reference to a ‘phase down’ of fossil fuels for the first time.

Carbon capture is viewed by many within the energy sector as a key technology to reduce emissions, but its deployment at scale is largely untested and the IEA has warned that it is a 'fantasy' that carbon capture can facilitate business-as-usual for the energy sector. The Stanlow refinery processes up to nine million tonnes of crude per year, delivering 4.4 billion litres of diesel, three billion litres of petrol, and two billion litres of jet fuel annually. The carbon capture plant at Stanlow is due to be operational from 2028.

“Together with Essar, we have worked to provide an essential and reliable gas cleaning solution for the carbon capture facility,” said Michael Cherry, vice president of Refining Technologies at Elessent Clean Technologies. “With our BELCO scrubbing technology, we will ensure clean and cool flue gas is delivered.”