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Common hunt for suitable CO2 storage

12/10/2009 Norwegian and British authorities are working together to identify suitable formations under the North Sea where carbon dioxide (CO2) can be stored.

“We update and quality-assure data from the Norwegian part of the North Sea, while our colleagues in the British Geological Survey (BGS) work to map the British sector. The intention is to obtain an overview of suitable storage sites for the greenhouse gas CO2,” says Eva Halland, geologist with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and project manager for the work in the Norwegian sector.

The the One North Sea Project will estimate the magnitude of existing storage sites, as well as the potential need. The project is also looking into what is needed in order to store CO2 from Europe – and when this need will arise. Another aspect of the project is to point out what the industries and the authorities can do to establish a good framework, as well as an infrastructure for CO2 transport. 

”There are several locations in mainland Europe where it is possible to store the greenhouse gas undergound, with the exception of Norway, but many are skeptical as to whether the locations are safe enough. That is why we are looking at the North Sea," says Halland.

Halland and her colleagues are hunting for formations in locations where CO2 storage will not pose conflicts with oil and gas production. Obviously, the storage sites must also have the right characteristics to ensure that the greenhouse gas stays in place.

CO2 has been stored under the seabed off the Norwegian coast for many years. The operating company StatoilHydro has injected the greenhouse gas into the Utsira formation in the Sleipner area of the North Sea since the mid-1990s, and CO2 from the Snøhvit gas is stored under the Barents Sea.

”Capture and sequestration of CO2 (CCS) is in huge demand. Norway has good expertise here, which is a big advantage in the mapping we are working on," comments Eva Halland. 

The British consultancy firm Element energy is coordinating the project. Econ Pöyry and CMS Cameron McKenna are also participants in the project, along with the NPD and BGS.

At the storage seminar ”Climate change and technology” held in Bergen in May, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Riis-Johansen and the British Minister of Energy Lord Hunt agreed to  cooperate on investigating the possibility of storing CO2 beneath the North Sea.

The plan calls for the project to submit its report in January 2010. The study will be part of the input to plan an international strategy for CCS.

Updated: 19/10/2009