Technology as a promise of the permanency of our habits
Oil fields in South Moravia aren’t noticeable at first sight and don’t seem to have much in common with the idea of a landscape of the future. On the surface, the extraction facilities are neither large nor complex. When the oil well is depleted, they are simply hauled away, the concrete foundations bulldozed and then left to overgrow. It won’t take long. New deposits are found sporadically and extraction is becoming more and more difficult.
Pumpjacks jutting out from the idyllic Moravian vineyards will soon become a relic of the fossil past. The one in Žarošice, however, tells a new story set in the depths below. The development of the SPICER technology is underway here, which aims to return underground what was created by burning the extracted raw material. It's supposed to create a burial ground for carbon dioxide.
CO2 is converted to a supercritical state, when its state changes from gaseous to liquid. Injection to a depth of over 800 metres ensures that it remains in this state and does not convert back to gas. Liquefaction causes it to lose most of its volume. A gas with a volume of 1 000 m3 becomes 2.7 m3 of liquid. Burying the CO2 greenhouse gas, which causes global warming, would enable us to clean emissions from large power stations, heating plants and industrial plants.
This may seem like the ideal solution. We get rid of the unwanted gas and the earth’s empty bowels are given new content and meaning. However, such technologies allow us to continue with the existing industrial production and energy systems without any substantial changes. Paradoxically, they can help to extend the use of coal and fossil-fuel energy. They can help preserve the old world that caused the global climate crisis for longer.
Žarošice: Ritual fossile exchange
Scattered among vineyards and fields, oil wells are specific for South Moravia. These inconspicuous structures situated in the vicinity of Moravian villages have been pumping oil from the depths of the earth for over a century. The oil is almost gone. One of the last extraction sites in the area sits on a few dozen square meters of concrete panels. Behind the fence, a pumpjack sways in a monotonous rhythm to keep the pump barrels moving. The rest of the local infrastructure consists of storage tanks and a few portacabins that serve as facilities for the service staff. This is not the sole purpose of the site. The Earth's cavities are to be filled with compressed carbon dioxide produced by the fossil fuel industry. Sara’s recordings not only capture the sound of the technology and the extraction of oil, but also give us an idea of what the process sounds like to the creatures that live underground. The local color of the Moravian countryside is enhanced by the goats kept by the well operators behind the fence.