January 24, 2022

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This is the technology that will create a new large-scale Norwegian industry

This is the technology that will create a new large-scale Norwegian industry

Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide (Labour) thinks Norway has it yellow leader jersey in capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Before the new industry becomes a reality, a new puzzle of new infrastructure must be built with special ships, transmission lines and airtight tanks under the seabed.

In 2.5 years, the first supply of carbon dioxide will be pumped under the sea floor off Øygarden under the auspices of the Northern Lights constellation. The oil companies behind it are now building their own fleet to transport exhaust gas from the chimney of the plant in Kollsnes. In the first phase, two private ships will be contracted.

– These are the first ships of their kind in the world, says Bohr Jacobsen, Head of the Aurora Borealis.

It is not uncommon for the oil companies themselves to build and operate ships. Externally, the ship’s design may resemble a regular gas cargo ship, but the equipment is specifically designed to manage carbon dioxide.

There are several reasons why we do this ourselves. First, completely new ships are being built, and the tank system is completely new. There are no standards for this on the market, and the technology has to be qualified, says Jacobsen, who says they offer a door-to-door service.

Securing rights

In several parts of the value chain, a completely new technology is being developed. The authorities agreed to the same concept under certain conditions. Studies are still ongoing and decisions are still pending before applying for an injection permit.

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According to Northern Lights, it is on track to complete phase one by 2024, to ensure long-term effects and safety considerations. There are also special requirements for the selection of materials, thermodynamics and chemical reactions.

The constellation has brought in engineers and tank specialists from the owners Shell, Total Energy and Equinor, so the companies will also secure the rights to the technology.

Carbon dioxide is a very demanding substance to deal with. Once held, it must be condensed and cooled under high pressure into a liquid form. In this process, dry ice is used, and the right balance between temperature and pressure must be found.

The special ships will load the carbon dioxide in liquid form which will be temporarily stored in tanks.

It is secured against leaks

There is a high prestige and high costs when storing formed gas at an altitude of 2,000 meters below the sea floor.

– How can you make sure that the tank does not leak?

– We are sure that this is a proper storage method, and that there is no risk of leaks in the value chain. We have control over the molecules. A potential leak will send false signals when the goal is to take care of all the carbon dioxide our customers have paid us to store at all times.

Analyzes from the first well that will now be used show that the subsoil is well suited to storing carbon dioxide in the future (geologic time), according to Jacobsen.

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The way carbon moves in the reservoir must be monitored continuously, and there are two barriers in the rocks in the ground.

Oil companies already have experience from Sleipner and Snehvet, where there are similar wells.

Our industry is used to treat gas under pressure. We consider risks to be very low throughout the value chain. Carbon dioxide is easier than oil and gas because it is not combustible.

Uncertain profitability

The profitability of CO2 storage remains uncertain. The project would not have been possible without the massive public infrastructure grant.

The state had previously committed to taking 17 billion of the total bill of 25 billion for capture, transportation and storage. DN recently discussed the financial uncertainty surrounding two of its capture projects.

As for the Norsem takeover facility in Brevik, the budget has already exceeded one billion, while funding for Fortum from the European Union has been refused. The state is now in dialogue with Norcem and Fortum to clarify the funding.

The pier facility at Kollsnes in Øygarden is already well under way.  This photo was taken in September.

The pier facility at Kollsnes in Øygarden is already well under way. This photo was taken in September. (Photo: Northern Lights)

Climate and Environment Minister Espin Barth Eide believes that higher CO2 prices will improve profitability.

It is only a matter of time before the price of catch and stock becomes lower than the price of release. And when volumes go up, the price of storage also goes down as we’ve also seen for solar. It’s a lot to do with technology, Barth Eddy told DN recently.

Aurora Borealis does not expect profitability in the first phase, which has a production capacity of 1.5 million tons. By expanding the capacity to five million tons, the turnover will be several billion kronor per year, but it will require significant investments, DN has learned.

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