UK-Norway launch North Sea carbon store study
Governments join forces to commission new study into offshore carbon sequestration
The UK and Norway today signed a wide-ranging deal that will see the two countries co-operate on the development of the North Sea as a potential site for storing captured carbon emissions.
Under the terms of the deal, the two governments have jointly commissioned a major new study designed to analyse the sea bed of the entire North Sea, identify areas that are likely to be suitable for the storage of liquefied carbon dioxide, and predict the likely volumes of CO2 that will have to be stored in the coming decades and from where it will be captured.
The study will also attempt to identify the likely business models that could be developed to support an emerging carbon storage industry and the extent to which the North Sea could be used to sequester carbon emissions from other European countries.
UK energy minister Lord Hunt, who today met with his Norwegian counterpart Terje Riis-Johansen, said that the research had the potential to deliver significant economic, as well as environmental, benefits.
He added that the findings would help assist governments from across Europe “to work together to store carbon dioxide safely under the North Sea and to plan the implementation of CCS [carbon capture and storage]”.
The combination of stable geological features and an established offshore engineering sector mean the North Sea has long been identified as a potential site for carbon sequestration. As a result, the bulk of carbon capture projects currently being proposed in Northern Europe are located with a view to piping captured emissions under the North Sea.
Initial studies carried out in 2007 and 2008 suggested that under-sea storage of carbon would be technically feasible. The latest research is intended to build on those findings and also extend the areas being studied to include those controlled by Germany and the Netherlands, both of which have been invited to take part in the new project.
In addition to commissioning new research into CCS, the joint ministerial statement also commits the UK and Norway to share information from CCS demonstration projects, step up collaboration on offshore wind energy projects in the North Sea, and jointly lobby for the construction of a new interconnector between the two countries that could form part of a European supergrid capable of enabling the future export of renewable electricity.