A group of Europe’s biggest oil and gas and energy companies — with BP at the helm — has applied for UK government funding to kick-start the development of pipelines and infrastructure off the east coast of England for storing carbon dioxide emitted from big clusters of industry.
The new partnership, dubbed Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), will comprise the UK supermajor as operator, Eni of Italy, Equinor of Norway, Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, Total of France and National Grid of the UK.
It is aiming to develop a network of offshore pipelines to transport CO2 emissions captured from the proposed Net Zero Teesside (NZT) and Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) schemes and to pump them into saline aquifers beneath the UK North Sea for permanent storage.
NEP has submitted a bid for funding through Phase 2 of the UK government’s £170 million ($220 million) Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge to develop the infrastructure, which is intended to serve the two projects that are aiming to decarbonise large centres of industry around the River Tees near Middlesbrough and further south around the Humber estuary.
BP has not yet said how much funding it has applied for.
If successful, the two projects combined could help decarbonise nearly 50% of the UK’s industrial emissions, BP claimed.
It is intended that initial “anchor projects” for each scheme will be commissioned by 2026, with more industrial users added in the years after, with a goal of each reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030 through a combination of carbon capture, hydrogen and fuel-switching.
The new group’s application for funding comes after the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) this month agreed to the addition of BP and Equinor alongside National Grid to the UK’s first-ever carbon storage licence — known as CS001 — which was awarded to Carbon Sentinel, a National Grid company, in November 2012.
BP called the Endurance reservoir the “most mature large-scale saline aquifer for CO2 storage” on the offshore UK continental shelf.
'Willingness to collaborate'
Andy Lane, vice president of carbon capture, utilisation and storage solutions at BP and managing director for NZT, said: “The formation of NEP is another significant milestone towards developing the offshore infrastructure that will be needed to safely transport and store CO2 from CCUS projects along England’s east coast.
“The partnership and our joint bid demonstrate industry’s willingness to come together and collaborate wherever possible to accelerate making CCUS a reality in the UK, helping to decarbonise the local economy and contributing to the UK’s climate goals.”
The UK last year set a legally binding target to become a carbon neutral — or net zero — economy by 2050 and while big strides have been taken in cutting emissions from the power sector, reducing emissions from industry has been harder to achieve.
The ZCH partners include Associated British Ports, British Steel, Centrica Storage, Drax Group, Equinor, Mitsubishi Power, National Grid Ventures, PX Group, SSE Thermal, Saltend Cogeneration Company, Uniper, and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
It expects to capture at least 17 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year by the mid-2030s from several large-scale fossil-fuel power plants, as well as a blue-hydrogen facility and possibly a steel mill, and pump the emissions through pipelines to an underground aquifer in the North Sea.
At its heart is Equinor’s 600MW H2H Saltend blue-hydrogen plant, which would produce the low-carbon fuel needed to help decarbonise the region’s heavy industry — currently responsible for about 15% of the UK’s annual emissions.
An onshore hydrogen pipeline network would be built across the region by National Grid Ventures to distribute the low-carbon H2, which will be derived from steam methane reforming with CCS.
Equinor is also a partner in the NZT development, which proposes to build a new gas-fired power station with carbon capture, and to extend the CCS infrastructure to the neighbouring industrial cluster.
That group comprises a consortium of five companies that are also partners in the Endurance element of the scheme — BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total.
It is aiming to capture up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, equivalent to the annual energy use of up to 3 million homes in the UK.
Grete Tveit, senior vice president for low carbon solutions at Equinor, said: “Carbon capture and storage is a crucial technology for reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement and we are committed to working with others to create real change.
“We believe that with our partners in the Humber, Teesside and the Northern Endurance Partnership we can deliver deep decarbonisation of these major UK industrial clusters using CCUS and hydrogen, safeguarding jobs and helping develop world-leading low carbon expertise that can play a leading role in the UK’s journey to net zero by 2050.”
Jon Butterworth, managing director for National Grid Ventures, said: “National Grid sits at the heart of the UK’s energy system and we want to contribute to the economic recovery through investing in solutions to support a net zero future.
“We’re delighted to start working together with five really world-class energy companies to deliver a solution that will play a critical role in decarbonising the UK’s largest industrial heartland and protecting tens of thousands of jobs in the process.”