Go-ahead for carbon storage project in North Sea

The Norwegian government has just given the go-ahead for a new, ground breaking project to store carbon dioxide gas under the North Sea.

The Northern Lights initiative, led by energy companies Equinor, Shell and Total, would see carbon dioxide being captured from three industrial plants in the south of Norway.

The waste gas would then be freighted by ship up the coast to the Bergen region, where it would be temporarily stored before being pumped into reservoirs under the sea bed.

This is part of a wider effort across Norway to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, helping the country to achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions.

The Nordic nation is already home to the largest testing centre for carbon-capturing technologies, the TCM centre at Mongstad outside Bergen, and has been involved in a number of CCS projects over recent years.

Making industry greener

The Northern Lights initiative will initially involve capturing carbon from three industrial facilities in the Oslo region of Norway, all of which are heavy emitters of the greenhouse gas.

These include Fortum Oslo Varme, a waste‑to‑energy incineration plant; Norcem, a cement factory; and an ammonium plant run by Norwegian industrial giant Yara.

The gas will be transported up the coast to a terminal at Naturgassparken in Øygarden municipality, before being pumped into reservoirs near the Troll field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).

Waste carbon dioxide will first be transported to the Naturgassparken facility in western Norway, before being stored under the sea bed. Photo © Helge Hansen / Equinor

Equinor, Norway’s state-owned energy firm, has more than twenty years’ experience of storing carbon under the sea in this way.

The energy company operates some of the largest CCS projects worldwide, and has already sequestered more than 20 million tonnes of CO2 from its Sleipner and Snøhvit natural gas fields.

This new project could see an added 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being stored per year, helping Norway to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

If the initiative is a success, this new method for storing waste carbon under the sea could one day be opened up to businesses across Europe.

Growing momentum

Last week, Norwegian company Aker Solutions won the first contract awarded as part of the Northern Lights project.

The firm will be developing the infrastructure required to store carbon dioxide under the sea bed.

"Carbon capture and storage plays an essential role in the industry’s efforts to contribute to achievement of the Paris climate goals," said Luis Araujo, chief executive officer of Aker Solutions.

"We will leverage our extensive experience with CCS technologies on this project in our joint effort to reduce emissions."

The partners Equinor, Total and Shell will now move on to conducting detailed studies for the project, and expect to make a final investment decision in 2020/21.


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