This article offers a comparative analysis of the emergence of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) activities and strategies in three multinational oil and gas companies. Exxon/ExxonMobil was first to make plans for a major, pioneering CCS project, but later pursued a relatively cautious strategy. In contrast, BP showed little interest in CCS up until 1997, but from that point on developed a particularly ambitious strategy. Statoil, meanwhile, has been relatively strongly involved in CCS activities for a long time. An explanatory framework with potential for wider application is developed, highlighting how the overall compatibility of CCS with oil and gas industry characteristics created a strategic dilemma for the companies. In explaining their responses, the article emphasizes the process towards institutionalization of CCS as a widely recognized mitigation option, and the three companies' different climate change strategies.