CCS in the United Arab Emirates

CCS in the United Arab Emirates


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven autonomous emirates and one of the largest energy exporters and oil and gas reserve-holders in the world. It is one of the most open economies in the Middle East and ranked 26th globally in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s ‘Ease of Doing Business report. High investment in education and social services, coupled with oil revenues and a relatively small population (which grew from 2.4 million in 1995 to around 8 million in 2012), has resulted in rapid development, with a rise on the UN Human Development Index from ‘medium’ in 1980 to ‘very high’ in 2011, the highest in the Arab world.

The UAE has also invested heavily in clean energy as part of its national diversification and carbon mitigation strategies. It announced both the first large-scale CCS project and renewable energy target within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and is permanent host to the 158-country International Renewable Energy Agency. It has recently begun carbon inventory work and has increased its activities in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), notably partnering to gain inclusion of CCS in the UN Clean Development Mechanism. Considering such factors as the investment environment, technological capacity and a commitment to clean energy, a recent survey supported by the Global CCS Institute identified the UAE as the most suitable amongst countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for CCS development

Emissions profile

The UAE’s total GHG emissions in 2005 were 173,560 Gigagrams (Gg) CO2-equivalent, which includes:

  • 153,833 Gg from energy;
  • 8,629 Gg from industrial processes;
  • 3,976 Gg from agriculture; and
  • 7,122 Gg from waste.

CO2 sequestration by the forestry and land-use sector in 2000 amounted to 13,223 Gg. Government-managed carbon inventories for Dubai and Abu Dhabi are expected to be finalised and publicly released by 2014, so as to improve accuracy of emissions reporting.

The UAE signed up to the UNFCCC in 1996 as a non-Annex 1 Partywhich specifies no legal obligation for developing countries to cut emissions. However, the UAE was the only GCC country to associate with the Copenhagen Accord in 2010 and has made major investments in mitigation activities at home and abroad.


Source: United States Energy Information Agency (EIA)

Policy environment

CCS is explicitly acknowledged by the UAE Government as a key component of national greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation plans in its national communications to the UNFCCC, as well as its submissions to the International Energy Agency for the Clean Energy Ministerial.

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned clean energy company, which is responsible for multi-billion dollar clean energy and education programs, has initiated work on CCS following endorsement by the Executive Council, the Abu Dhabi legislative body. Masdar, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority (the Secretariat of the Executive Council), is currently developing a legal and regulatory regime for CCS.

In addition to CCS, the UAE’s major GHG mitigation strategies include:

  • the first mandatory building efficiency codes in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi’s Estidama in 2010, to be followed by Dubai’s Green Building Codes in 2014);
  • the first appliance efficiency regulations in the GCC (including air-conditioning and lighting);
  • the first renewable energy targets (7% in Abu Dhabi by 2020 and 5% in Dubai by 2030);
  • desalination efficiency programs;
  • a series of pilots on potential government interventions in the cooling sector;
  • peaceful nuclear energy (20% of national supply by 2020);
  • high efficiency natural gas plants;
  • sustainable transport initiatives in aviation, public transport, and natural gas fuelsl; and
  • a variety of energy efficiency and climate change awareness campaigns targeting the general public, media, and businesses.

The Ministry of Environment and Water is the primary federal body charged with carbon mitigation, while on the emirate-level, the Executive Affairs Authority, in partnership with such entities as the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, leads in Abu Dhabi.  The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, and notably its member the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, leads in Dubai. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Energy and Climate Change, acts as the UAE’s international interface, such as in the UNFCCC, and supports domestic policy formation.

Status of CCS

The UAE continues to develop, through Masdar, a CCS network linking CO2 emitters to users, namely for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In early 2012, Masdar announced that it would proceed to tender for a CCS project with Emirates Steel Industries, handling 800,000 tons of carbon annually and connecting an Emirates Steel Industries factory to an oil field owned by the ADNOC group, the state-owned and largest oil and gas producer in the country.

The CO2 feed stream from the Emirates Steel Industries factory, containing 90 per cent CO2, will be transferred to a Masdar compression and dehydration facility at the project site in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi. The feed stream will be dehydrated then compressed into dense phase, delivering a CO2 stream of over 98 per cent purity through 50 km of pipeline, to be injected in an onshore field, operated by Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO). Project start-up is envisioned toward 2016.

The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 also calls for consideration of CCS-equipped coal power in the next ten years, and the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has announced feasibility studies for a CCS-equipped coal plant. No coal plants are envisaged without CCS.