Norway Keen to Exploit Carbon Capture Lead
One hour by helicopter from the Norwegian coast, the mammoth Sleipner platform rises more than 200 metres above the grey water of the North Sea. Named after a mythical eight-legged horse, it sucks natural gas from dozens of underwater wells and then sends it through a tangle of pipelines to destinations across Europe.
But a lone pipe, painted green, never reaches the mainland’s kitchen stoves or furnaces. Inside is a stream of carbon dioxide, a natural gas by-product that is one of the main causes of global warming. The green pipe carries the CO2 from Sleipner back underwater and deposits it into a reservoir more than one kilometre beneath the ocean floor.
There, at least in theory, it will rest for thousands of years. Since 1996, Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned energy company that operates Sleipner, has disposed of almost 13m tonnes of CO2 in this way.
Statoil has taken repeated images of the undersea reservoir since it began injecting CO2. Thus far, it has shown no signs of leakage.
That has made Sleipner something of a holy site for believers in carbon capture and storage (CCS), a promising but controversial technology in the fight against climate change.
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