Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is currently the main technology for decarbonising fossil fuels and the only developed technology that can achieve large reductions in CO2 emissions from industrial processes (such as steel and cement). Equinor operates some of the largest projects worldwide, capturing and storing more than 20 million tonnes of CO2 to date at Sleipner and Snøhvit in Norway. These have given Equinor more than 20 years of operational CCS experience.
CCS technology is proven, but viable commercial frameworks must be developed to stimulate the extensive roll-out that is necessary to reach climate targets. The Norwegian Government is evaluating a full CCS value chain in Norway that will, through public-private partnerships, seek to demonstrate a commercial framework that is acceptable both for industry and the Government. Equinor has been awarded the development of the CO2 storage part of this value chain. This will be the first storage site in the world receiving CO2 from several industrial sources.
Equinor’s storage project will take CO2 captured from three onshore industrial facilities in eastern Norway and transport it by ship to a receiving plant onshore located on the west coast of Norway. Here CO2 will be pumped from the ship to tanks onshore, prior to being sent through pipelines on the seabed to several injection wells east of the Troll field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The CO2 will be stored permanently up to 2,000 metres below the seabed.
The reservoir surveyed for CO2 storage has the capacity to accommodate significant additional volumes and could lower the barrier for emitters in Europe to realise their first CCS projects. The Norwegian project may be the start of the world’s first CCS network across national borders.
The development of CO2 storage may also help create a hydrogen market. Hydrogen is a zero emission fuel that can potentially be used for power generation, heating and as a transportation fuel. When hydrogen is produced from natural gas, it generates CO2 as a by-product. A functioning CO2 capture, transportation and storage network would make it easier to develop a full-scale value chain for hydrogen.
Equinor, Vattenfall and Gasunie are currently evaluating the possibility of converting Vattenfall’s gas power plant Magnum in the Netherlands into a hydrogen-powered plant. This pioneering project is still in an early phase and there are many uncertainties that need to be addressed – but it has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 4 million tonnes per year.