Four companies have agreed to develop plans for a large-scale offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the Dutch North Sea

Private equity-backed players Neptune Energy and Rosewood Exploration, ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy and Dutch state-controlled EBN Capital signed a co-operation agreement to move ahead with the L10 CCS scheme.

The partners intend to take the project to the concept select stage in 2022 and be ready to take it forward into front-end engineering and design by the end of the year, followed by the submission of a storage licence application.

Neptune’s managing director in the Netherlands Lex de Groot said the agreement was “a significant step” for the scheme.

L10 could store 4 million to 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from industrial customers in depleted gas fields around the Neptune-operated L10-A, B and E areas.

Oil and chemical companies are evaluating CO2 capture and storage schemes, sometimes with government programmes, seeking to slow climate warming.

These developers hope to profit by selling underground storage and services to rivals.