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An R&D Program committed to providing Total with innovative, economical solutions for responsible energy, notably by tackling climate challenges, safeguarding the environment and addressing stakeholder concerns.

andre_marble_exploration_production_total
André Marblé

R&D

Natural gas and CCUS: pillars of the 2°C climate scenario

Natural gas is currently the best option available for combatting global warming while meeting the world’s energy needs. This abundant energy source emits half as much CO2 for power generation as coal and already accounts for nearly 50% of Total’s energy mix. Our aim is to make it the predominant component of that mix by 2035.

For this to happen, we need to pursue an offensive strategy on this resource. That means surpassing the achievements and know-how for which we are already renowned, notably in the field of gas treatment. In a highly competitive environment where considerable crude oil and natural gas price volatility is the norm, cost-cutting is our paramount imperative. Our goal is therefore to come up with innovative solutions compatible with the current economic paradigm.

As for CO2 capture, utilization and storage technologies (CCUS), accelerating their development – especially by bringing down the costs of CO2 capture – is an essential contributor to the proposed strategy of the International Energy Agency (IEA), namely, achieving carbon neutrality during the second half of this century to keep the rise in global average temperatures below  the threshold of 2°C.

Transparency toward stakeholders and projects with low environmental impacts

As concerns for the environment continue to grow, our projects cannot become reality unless they are accepted by our stakeholders. Though having technological solutions compliant with ever-more stringent legislation and managing all the risks of our activities is certainly imperative, it is no longer enough. We must also win the trust of our stakeholders and build our credibility by sharing information transparently.

This business environment of tighter regulations and greater stakeholder vigilance applies to all companies today, so it is our job to distinguish Total from the rest. We can achieve this by:

  • Developing technologies that will enable us to operate our facilities and implement our projects with a minimal environmental footprint, a steadily declining risk of accidents, and lower costs,
  • Earning a reputation as a credible player able to offer solutions that truly address society’s concerns.

9 Program priorities

The Gas Solutions and Sustainable Development Program focuses on nine priority goals:

To provide energy with the lowest environmental footprint:

  • Lower the costs of the gas production chain,
  • Lower the costs (both CAPEX and OPEX) of CO2 capture,
  • Qualify solutions that allow economically viable transport of dense-phase CO2;
  • Qualify structures for safe, permanent CO2 storage;
  • Develop energy-saving processes and architectures.

 

To meet the challenges of minimizing the environmental impacts of our projects and making them acceptable to stakeholders:

  • Qualify processes and technologies that provide the most cost-effective response to evolving regulatory requirements and stakeholder expectations, all of which target lower environmental impacts;
  • Develop more effective risk management systems, including ongoing improvements to our accident prevention tools;
  • Reduce substantially the cost of water management at our production facilities;
  • Understand the mechanisms of stakeholder risk; identify initiatives that will promote lasting stakeholder acceptance of our operations, and cooperate with stakeholders to build those initiatives.

Nine R&D Projects

The Gas Solutions and Sustainable Development R&D Program comprises nine R&D Projects.

Two of these contribute to research being conducted under two cross-functional R&D  Programs under way at the corporate level, Gas and Energy Efficiency:

  • Acid Gas Treatment aims to develop the next generation of separation processes for purifying natural gas and our gaseous emissions; these processes will allow us to exploit new gas resources and lower our investment costs;
  • Gas Valorization and Energy Efficiency focuses on inventing new integrated solutions that will extract maximum value from natural gas and boost energy efficiency.

 

Four Projects are part of the corporate-level R&D on CCUS. They relate to the three areas of expertise that pertain to the E&P segment, namely, CO2 capture, transport and storage:

  • Native CO2 Separation, targeting the development of more economical technologies (in terms of both CAPEX and OPEX) for recovering high-purity CO2 from our acid gas reservoirs by optimizing specific types of separation processes (i.e., solvents, membranes, adsorbents) or inventing disruptive technologies that will drastically lower the cost of those operations:
  • Anthropogenic CO2 Capture, which targets the CO2 emitted by cogeneration plants and industries to help large oil and gas consumers curb their greenhouse gas emissions, by facilitating commercial deployment of capture solutions in the medium term and developing disruptive innovations for the longer term;
  • Geological CO2 Storage, to encourage world-wide deployment of geological storage solutions and help propel Total to leadership in CCUS, by reducing uncertainties relating to the safety of CO2 storage and delivering methodologies and technologies designed to ensure the safe and affordable operation of commercial-scale CO2 storage projects;
  • CO2 Transport, to enhance our overall knowledge concerning the transport of CO2 in order to design and operate networks to transfer dense-phase CO2 from the capture site to the storage site under safe conditions.

 

Three Projects are being carried out within the scope of the corporate-level HSE R&D Program:

Environmental and Societal Stakes, which is directed at:

  • Placing us in the vanguard of low-impact, low-cost development projects;
  • Developing new environmental monitoring tools and new information-sharing methods for use in communicating with stakeholders on risk-management issues;
  • Fine-tuning our understanding of local and global societal issues and identifying solutions that will pave the way to a lasting acceptance of our operations and projects.

 

Water Management, aimed at:

  • Optimizing the cost of treating water to meet the requirements for reinjection into the reservoir or comply with environmental regulations;
  • Identifying innovative solutions that would generate additional water resources to meet the needs of civil society for industry (especially the paper and cement  industries, which are large water consumers) or for the irrigation of non-food crops under controlled conditions.
  • Developing and qualifying solutions for EOR developments that raise new water-management issues.

 

Major Accident Prevention aims to propose solutions that will reduce the risks of major accidents at our existing and future operating facilities, and mitigate the severity of any accidents that do occur, by:

  • Managing the human factors that contribute to accident prevention;
  • Detecting any containment losses as early as possible to prevent them from evolving into a major accident scenario;
  • Limiting the consequences of a major accident.

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