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CCS - crucial for reaching the climate goals

In the eighties, the two researchers discussed what could be done with the CO₂ emissions from gas extraction. 36 years later, the solution they came up with is absolutely crucial in the effort against climate change.

One summer evening in 1986, two researchers from Sintef discussed an idea that was to have great significance. Erik Lindeberg had invited Torleif Holt to his cabin in Sweden. The conversation revolved around a topic they were both concerned with: How should we deal with CO₂ from gas extraction? And it possible to capture the CO₂ gas and return it to where it came from?

Ten years later these early ideas became a reality at the Sleipner field in the North Sea, when CO₂ was pumped back under the seabed for the first time. Equinor and its partners proved to the world that safe carbon storage was possible.

Today, the climate crisis is our greatest challenge. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) will become an increasingly important technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The message from the UN climate panel is clear. CCS is crucial for the world to reach our common climate goals – and we need it on a large scale.

The combustion of fossil energy sources increases the proportion of CO₂ in the atmosphere. So why not just stop it? The answer is as simple as the solution is complex: Not all industries can be electrified, and the industriesare often left with carbon from the production itself. Therefore, capturing and storing the carbonbecomes essential.

In Norwaywe’ve already gotten started. Our joint Northern Lights project together with Shell and TotalEnergies is part of the venture the government calls “Longship”. The project has ambitions to realize CCS on a full scale – and no other country in the world has such a system. We see even greater opportunities in this space. Our new CO₂ storage site Smeaheia, just off the coast of Bergen – could become the world’s largest.

Enthusiastic participants of the Northern Lights project, which will house the world's first full-scale facility for the capture, transport and storage of CO₂ when it is ready.
Photo: Kjersti Nordøy

There’s also a lot going on outside of Norway’s borders as well. Together with our partners we’re collaborating on solutions to capture and store industrial CO₂ emissions from the UK and the US. We’re also looking at the possibility of a pipeline that can transport CO₂ from Europe to be stored safely underneath the North Sea.

The power that made tiny Norway alarge energy nation is the same power that will contribute to the world’s energy transition. Thanks to researchers on a fateful cabin trip, and world class ideas and technological development, we will soon be able to offer safe storage of CO₂ to the world. And the North Sea will play a key role.

The first 50 years have passed. The clock is ticking towards 2050.

This is one of many stories from our first 50 years. It is also part of the story of how we will succeed with the energy transition.

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