Occidental Petroleum is prepared to change its business model as the energy transition approaches, chief executive Vicki Hollub said Wednesday at the 23rd World Petroleum Congress in Houston.

Hollub discussed the company’s oil and gas and chemical operations, as well as other segments that have part of Occidental for decades. The existing operations, she said, will be joined by a new segment that will likely become the company’s most important.

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“Those businesses don't go away, because they're so critical to what we are to become [as a] carbon management company,” she said.

Hollub said Occidental would focus on carbon capture, especially in the Permian basin, as it works towards an objective of net-zero carbon by 2050. She said carbon capture, utilisation and sequestration will be a “key part” of the company’s operations.

Occidental, Hollub said, intends to take a two-pronged approach to carbon emissions. The company will work to retrofit “industrial side” items including aircraft, trucks and industrial plants with carbon capture devices. Occidental will also work to develop a new technology to pull carbon dioxide from the air.

“That's important because pulling [CO2] from the atmosphere is critical to achieving the goal of capping global warming at one and a half degrees [Celsius],” she said.

Occidental has used carbon dioxide as part of its enhanced oil recovery process for decades, which Hollub said has the company better prepared to undertake CCUS operations.

“[Enhanced oil recovery] is not very well understood by a hardly anybody outside of our industry,” she said. “Until it is, we're going to miss a huge opportunity in the world to to generate oil that produces products for the hard to decarbonise industries like aviation and maritime.”

Hollub said the company intends to not only sequester airborne carbon emissions, but put it back to use.

“Atmospheric [CO2] can be used either in enhanced oil recovery reservoirs, it can be used to sequester only, or it can be used to generate products,” she said. “If you use the atmospheric [CO2] and enhanced oil recovery projects, what you can do is generate a net zero-carbon barrel oil, so that product can then produce zero-carbon jet fuel and other products.

“So that’s why it’s so important we advance this technology,” she said.