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Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCS)

Photo: Zara Walker, Unsplash

We’re storing carbon safely and permanently under the sea bed

How do we stop CO2 reaching the atmosphere and exacerbating global warming? One solution that will be increasingly important to develop is capturing and storing carbon underground — quite literally putting it back where it came from. Equinor is a leading pioneer in this technology, called CCS.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage, or CCS/CCUS, is an important emissions reduction technology that can be applied across the energy system.

Why CCS?

CCS is one of the measures that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The International Energy Agency states that we will need to store billions of tonnes of CO2 every year if we are to reduce global warming. 

25 years

We have been developing technology for more than 25 years

40 projects

We have been part of more than 40 CCS-related projects

1000 years of carbon

A millennium of Norwegian CO2 emissions can potentially be stored beneath the North Sea

We are now pursuing new business models to make CCS commercially viable in the decarbonised energy systems of the future.

We’re leading studies on behalf of Norwegian authorities to develop full-scale CCS in Norway. The concept includes capturing CO2 from various onshore industries, transporting it by ships and injecting and permanently storing it 1000 – 2000 meters below the seabed.

Leveraging our R&D and innovation capabilities will be key to developing new energy solutions at an acceptable cost. We are focusing on options to maintain the competitiveness of oil and gas in a low-carbon future, with efforts in the area of storage and utilisation of CO2, decarbonisation of natural gas through hydrogen value chains, and low carbon fuel transportation solutions. We are also exploring synergies between renewables and oil and gas value chains.

Frequently asked questions

CCS on the NCS

Northern Lights — a new business opportunity for CO2 transport and storage

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CO2 will be stored 2.5 km beneath the sea bed, permanently and safely

Northern Lights will have an initial storage capacity of 1.5 million tonnes CO2 annually.

Together with Shell and TotalEnergies, we are developing infrastructure on the Norwegian Continental Shelf for transport and storage of CO2 from various onshore industries. The project, called Northern Lights, involves transporting liquified CO2 by pipeline to permanent offshore subsea storage.

The Northern Lights project is part of the Norwegian full-scale CCS project. The full-scale project includes capture of CO2 from industrial capture sources in the Oslo fjord region (cement and waste-to-energy) and shipping of liquid CO2 from these industrial capture sites to an onshore terminal on the Norwegian west coast. From there, the liquified CO2 will be transported by pipeline to a storage location subsea offshore in the North Sea, for permanent storage.

The solution being considered will have an initial storage capacity of around 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Once the CO2 is captured onshore, it will be transported by ships, injected and permanently stored 1,000—2,000 meters below the seabed.

This set-up is a unique solution and enables accommodating large CO2 volumes—from across Europe—that would otherwise have been emitted.

Northern Lights project
CCS on the NCS

Smeaheia and Polaris

Equinor has been awarded the operatorships for the development of the CO2 storages Smeaheia in the North Sea and Polaris in the Barents Sea. The two licences are important building blocks for developing the Norwegian continental shelf into a leading province for CO2 storage in Europe.

In its application, Equinor has submitted plans to develop the CO2 storage capacity in Smeaheia at 20 million tonnes annually, which entails a sharp increase in the capacity to store CO2 on a commercial basis on the Norwegian continental shelf. Northern Lights, the CO2 storage facility in the Longship project, has a planned injection capacity of 1.5 million tonnes a year in Phase 1 available from 2024 with plans to develop the capacity to 5-6 million tonnes a year from around 2026.

Through these two projects, Equinor aims to contribute to CO2 reductions equivalent to half of Norway's annual emissions. Equinor has ambitions to develop further storage licences in the North Sea in the coming years with the aim of building a common, pipeline-based infrastructure that can contribute to substantial cost reductions for the CCS value chains.

In the Barents Sea, about 100 kilometres off the coast of Finnmark, lies the CO2 storage Polaris. The storage is a key part of the Barents Blue project which Equinor is developing in collaboration with Vår Energi and Horisont Energi. The project is developing an ammonia production facility at Markoppneset in Hammerfest that will reform natural gas from the Barents Sea to clean, blue ammonia using carbon capture and storage. The first stage of the development includes capture, transport and storage of two million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Smeaheia and Polaris press release 5 April 2022
CCS on the NCS

Sleipner West

We capture about 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year from the natural gas on the Equinor-operated Sleipner field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

Since 1996, the captured CO2 has been stored in a saline formation 1 km below the seabed.

Brochure: 25 years of successful offshore CO2 storage in Norway (PDF)
Photo: Helge Hansen

Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM)

Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) is the world’s largest and most flexible test centre for developing CO2 capture technologies and a leading competence centre for carbon capture.

TCM is located at one of Norway’s most complex industrial facilities, Mongstad in Hordaland county. Mongstad is home to the world’s largest technology centre for development and testing of CO2 capture technology. The facility started operation in 2013, and it is owned and operated by Gassnova (73.9%), Equinor (operator, 8.7%), Shell (8.7%) and Sasol (8.7%).

The knowledge acquired from the TCM facility will be an important contributor towards the development of carbon capture technology.

TCM website

Other CCS projects

We have decades of experience from CCS projects of various sizes, successfully maturing the technology from the R&D stage to operations, putting us in a leading position to contribute in making CCS reach commercial scale.

By sharing our research and expertise with research institutions, academia, other companies and authorities we also contribute to the further development of CCS worldwide.