The Innovation Dynamics of the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Sector in Abu Dhabi, UAE

  • Vijo Varkey Theeyattuparampil

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Over the past few years, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has repeatedly been identified to generate the highest level of per capita carbon emissions (WWF, 2010). At the same time, given that the economy relies primarily on the oil and gas sector, concerns for peak oil call into discussion not only the possibility of employing more alternative energy sources, but also ways to increase and sustain production of fossil fuels. Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies have been a proposed as solution to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere (by storing carbon dioxide (CO2) underground), and to increase oil production (by injecting CO2 for oil recovery in depleting oil fields) (Nader, 2009). Within this context, the objectives of my research are: (1) identify the key stakeholders of the CCUS sector; (2) assess the current development of the emerging CCUS sector in Abu Dhabi; and, (3) identify areas of improvement for the successful emergence of CCUS sector in Abu Dhabi. To address these research objectives, I apply the Sectoral Innovations Systems framework to analyze the development of CCUS sector, and I collect data through 12 semi-structured interviews with experts along the CCUS value-chain in Abu Dhabi. Based on my analysis, I find that the knowledge-base in CCUS is limited, CCUS regulations are absent, and financial incentives are lacking, which can undermine the development of the CCUS sector. Furthermore, these shortcomings can delay the successful deployment of the CCUS sector in Abu Dhabi. To overcome some of these barriers, a favorable regulatory framework is necessary to support the development of the CCUS sector. The CCUS regulations should address the procedures for conducting site screening and selection for CO2 based enhanced oil recovery and CO2 storage. Regulatory guidance for CO2 injection and surveillance of the injected CO2 to improve the safety standards should also be detailed. Due to the longer life-span of CCUS based activities, regulations should address the responsibilities pertaining to long-term liability of the injected CO2, as well as procedural requirements for long-term monitoring and verification of injected CO2. Short-term financial incentives like governmental loans and subsidies could also support the high costs of capital incurred by early CCUS projects which can incentivize early CCUS development in Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, research and development focused programs pertaining to CCUS should be introduced in Abu Dhabi to attract talent at local research institutions.
Date of Award2011
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorGeorgeta Vidican (Supervisor)


  • Geological Carbon Sequestration
  • Environmental Policy
  • Carbon Dioxide Mitigation

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