Posted on February 9, 2023
Jacob Kurmmanecher, director of clean energy for LSB Industries, speaks about a carbon capture project in the works at the company’s El Dorado plant, during the spring Economic Outlook Luncheon at the El Dorado Golf & Country Club on Wednesday, Feb. (Photo description)
BY CAITLAN BUTLER
EL DORADO NEWS-TIMES
The El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce’s first Economic Outlook Luncheon of the year was held Wednesday, bringing business and community leaders together at the El Dorado Golf & Country Club, where they learned about a carbon capture project in the works at the LSB Industries – formerly El Dorado Chemical – plant.
Carbon dioxide capture is a process in which the carbon emissions from industrial processes are captured and stored long-term.
Jacob Kurmmenacher, director of clean energy at LSB Industries, and Reg Manhas, CEO of Lapis Energy, explained the project at Wednesday’s luncheon.
“We’re essentially going to remove the CO2 (carbon dioxide) from our process that is currently being emitted into the environment, and we’re going to permanently sequester it into the saline formation under the ground,” Kurmmenacher said.
Kurmmenacher said LSB is the fifth-largest ammonia producer in the United States, utilizing natural gas converted into hydrogen, which is combined with nitrogen to produce ammonia. The ammonia is used for everything from fertilizer to water plant treatments and more.
“Project Blue,” as the carbon capture project has been named, will de-carbonize the ammonia produced at the LSB plant.
“We’re going to capture about 50-60% of the emissions at the plant, and it will essentially make our ammonia all the way down to 40, from the 100 grams per megajoule. That’s what the industry calls ‘blue ammonia’ – you start with a carbon-based fuel and you remove the carbon,” Kurmmenacher said.
Manhas said the LSB-Lapis project will be the first of its kind in Arkansas, and one of the first in the U.S. “It’s a real flagship opportunity, not only for us and LSB, but also for the State of Arkansas and certainly El Dorado,” he said.
Delving into the specifics of the project, Manhas explained that Lapis is currently preparing its application for an EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) permit to drill a well at the LSB plant where the captured carbon will be injected. Once the permit is secured and the well drilled, Lapis will seek a second permit to begin injecting the carbon into the well.
“There will be a lot of contractors coming through town, so there will be economic benefit. It’s not going to be a big job creator… but there will be a lot of activity happening,” Manhas said.
Manhas said it could take a year or longer to get the well permit approved, but in the mean time, Lapis is working with machine fabricators and engineers to design the equipment that will be needed for the carbon capture and well.
The captured carbon will be stored in “pore space” – underground saline reservoirs where oil and gas can’t be found — under the LSB plant. The companies are in talks with landowners in the area about providing payment for use of the pore space within their properties, Manhas said.
“We find those reservoirs where there are all the things needed to maintain that sequestration permanently… In El Dorado, and around the LSB plant… there are two formations that we’re going to be drilling into,” Manhas said.
Over time, the carbon captured will expand slightly, but Manhas said current projections show that it isn’t expected to move outside of the LSB plant footprint much even after 50 years.
As the start of the project draws nearer, Manhas said the two companies hope to open lines of communication with the community to ensure there is understanding about what the project is and will do. A phone line (870-724-4016) and email address (info@eldoradoCCS.com) have been set up to give local residents an avenue to learn more about the project, and detailed information will soon be available on the Lapis website, lapisenergy.com.
“I think what we’re going to want to continue to do, and I want to take people’s advice as we go forward, is (look at) how do we get into the local communities. How do we establish open houses in the area around the plant so that people have an opportunity to come by and talk to us to understand the project and ask questions and make sure that they’re comfortable?” Manhas said. “We have plenty of time to do that, and we want to do it right…. Now is a time for us to begin that education.”
El Dorado Mayor Paul Choate said the presentation was impressive. “There’s a national mandate to reduce our carbon emissions, and I firmly believe we need to be good stewards of the God-given environment,” Choate said. “Whatever we can do to make our community better.”
To close Wednesday’s meeting, Chamber Board Chair Greg Withrow previewed the upcoming Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which El Dorado will host Feb. 26-28.
“We’re the farthest South town to have it and we’re definitely the smallest to host it, so it’s an honor,” Withrow said. “We, El Dorado, we all know how good our town is, and when people get here and then leave here, most of them go, ‘wow! That little old town, it makes an impression.’ We have that hospitality, no one’s a stranger and we do it very well.”
Tourism industry representatives and state officials will attend the conference this month, and Withrow said the event will serve as an opportunity for the city to show what it has to offer, from its industrial base to its hospitality, recreation and entertainment amenities.
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the City will host a concert, featuring former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s band, Capitol Offense, with special guest Madison Murphy. The show will follow a ticketed dinner, and one must buy tickets to the dinner to attend the concert.
Those who attend the dinner will also be entered into a raffle for a diamond pendant valued at $7,000. The pendant is in the shape of the state of Arkansas and is encrusted with diamonds and emeralds. Raffle tickets can also be purchased. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation.
“This is a three-day event that we have a committee working diligently to make their experience the most transparent and wonderful you could ever have, engaging all the people in the community in a way to where when they leave here, first, they think we’re in a major city that just blew them away,” Withrow said. “We all take part in making this happen.”