Offshore Carbon-Capture- und Storage

Olivier Le Moal,

Experts expect temperatures to rise. According to the United Nations, the risk of at least temporary global warming of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels over the next five years has risen to 50 percent. According to a climate report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the probability of such a development was still close to zero in 2015. To stop this trend, carbon capture and removal technologies are increasingly becoming a must.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), around 20 percent of the emissions reductions required to achieve the 1.5-degree scenario involve some form of carbon capture. Such a major challenge also represents a market opportunity. Work to scale up carbon capture has begun. So far, there are 16 large carbon capture plants capturing more than 30 million tons of carbon per year from industrial facilities. However, their number should grow as quickly as possible worldwide.

Oil companies in particular are showing great interest in technologies that remove CO2 from the air. The safe storage of CO2 in former oil and gas fields is a proven technology. For decades, energy companies have injected pressurized CO2 into reservoirs to displace oil and drive it to the surface.  But first, large quantities of CO2 must be transported from the capture site to the storage site either by pipeline or special ships. The CO2 must be pressurized to reach a liquid state.

The Norwegian government has invested EUR 1.7 billion in the Northern Lights project, a joint venture between Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies. In the first phase, CO2 will be captured from industrial sources in the Oslofjord region and transported in liquid form to an onshore terminal on the Norwegian west coast, where it will be transported by pipeline to an offshore storage complex in the North Sea at a depth of 2,600 meters. The first phase of the Northern Lights project aimed to achieve capacities for the transport, injection and storage of up to 1.5 million tons of CO2 per year. However, work is underway to scale up offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS).

With another project called Stella Maris, the entire CCS value chain is to be further developed, from loading the CO2 in the port and transporting it by ship through to the continuous injection of 10 million tons of CO2 per year in offshore storage facilities.Such processes are still expensive and the scaling of the CCS infrastructure will still take some time.

Doris Höflich, Market Intelligence Senior Expert