Chinese yard Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) has won a contract from the Equinor-led joint venture developing the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Norway.

The award will see DSIC build two LNG-powered carbon dioxide carriers — the first of their kind and potentially setting a new standard for CO2 shipping on coastal trading routes — to transport the greenhouse gas from European industrial emitters to a receiving terminal in Oygarden, western Norway.

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From there, the CO2 will be transported via pipeline for permanent storage in a geological reservoir 2600 metres below the seabed in the North Sea.

The vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2024 and will each measure 130 metres in length, with a width of 21.2 metres, and come with a cargo size of 7500 cubic metres.

In a bid to keep emissions from the carriers low, in addition to being powered by LNG, they will also incorporate a wind-assisted propulsion system and air lubrication in order to reduce carbon intensity by around 34% compared to conventional systems.

DSIC said its track record in delivering gas vessels helped it beat more than 50 rival yards in snaring the Northern Lights contract.

“The use of ships will enable the development of a flexible and efficient European infrastructure network for transport of CO2 captured by our industrial customers, keeping costs as low as possible to help decarbonisation scale up," said Northern Lights managing director Borre Jacobsen.

The vessels with purpose-built pressurised cargo tanks will be registered in Norway and operated by Northern Lights under the Norwegian flag and classed by DNV.

Northern Lights is the transport and storage component of Longship, the Norwegian government’s Nkr20 billion ($2.3 billion) full-scale CCS project.

The joint venture claims it will be the first ever cross-border, open-source CO2 transport and storage infrastructure network, offering European industrial emitters the opportunity to store their CO2 underground.

Phase one, with a capacity of up to 1.5 million tonnes per annum of CO2, is scheduled to be completed by mid-2024.

The Northern Lights joint venture claims that by enabling a full-scale CCS value chain in Europe, the project will help pave the way cost reductions and scale-up of similar, future projects.

The Northern Lights partners are Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies.