The Norwegian government approved a decision to fund the Nkr14.2 billion ($1.63 billion) Northern Lights carbon dioxide transport and storage project.

Following a vote in parliament yesterday, the government announced its funding decision on Tuesday to commit Nkr10.4 billion ($1.19 billion) to the scheme led by Equinor, Total and Shell.

Those three companies made a conditional investment decision in May and will cover the remaining Nkr3.8 billion ($440 million).

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

It includes the development and operation of CO2 transport and storage facilities, which will be open to third parties.

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 of CO2 per year, will be completed by mid-2024.

At a press conference in Oslo, Norway’s Minister of Energy & Petroleum Tina Bru noted that Longship is the Norwegian industry's largest climate project ever and will contribute substantially to the development of CCS as an efficient mitigation measure.

“Working together with the industry, the step-by-step approach has confirmed that the project is feasible,” she said.

The minister said she looked forward to cooperating further with the Northern Lights partners.

Equinor chief executive Anders Opedal said Northern Lights was pioneering. “We are ready to start realising this project that will be an important part of the climate solution,” he said.

The first carbon captured by Longship will be from Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik.

The plan is to capture 400,000 tonnes per year of CO2 from the factory and store it in a reservoir under the North Sea.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden participated in the conference via video link.

“Northern Lights will be the world’s first open source CO2, transport and storage project and is designed to provide a service to industrial emitters who can now take action on emissions that can’t be avoided. This is key to bringing real progress towards tackling climate change,” he said.

According to Bru, the funding decision demonstrates the Norwegian government's strong support for the development of a CCS value chain, essential for Europe to achieve its carbon neutrality targets.