Transport and storage: Northern Lights

Equinor is operator of the Northern Lights consortium, which also includes Shell and Total. They will build an open access transport and storage infrastructure for CO2 that provides capacity above and beyond that required for the Norcem and Fortum capture sites.

Northern Lights will transport the CO2 by tanker ship from the capture locations to the purpose-built receiving terminal near Bergen on the west coast of Norway. Here the CO2 will be stored in pressurized tanks before being pumped offshore through a pipeline to one or more injection wells that are located on the seafloor. No offshore platform is required for these wells and they will be controlled using existing oil and gas infrastructure on the Norwegian continental shelf. Much of the design and operations of these facilities is similar to that used for liquid petroleum gas (LPG), with the exception of the fire hazard, which is absent for CO2

Space to grow 

Given the Full-scale CCS project in Norway’s ambition to transport CO2 from across the Continent, the receiving terminal has been designed with future expansion in mind. The number of pressure tanks can be increased and there is even an option for building a second jetty to be able to receive two tankers at a time. The pipeline from the receiving terminal can transport the volumes of CO2 required and additional wells can be connected to the end of the pipeline. 

The Northern Lights project will be developed in two phases. Phase 1 includes concept capacity to transport, inject and store up to 1.5 million tons of CO2 per annum, Phase 2 will expand capacity by an additional 3.5 million tons of CO2 per annum, adding up to a total of 5 million tons of CO2 per annum. Both Fortum Oslo Varme and Norcem plan to capture 400 000 tonnes of CO2 from their facilities.

In September 2019 Equinor, on behalf of the partners of the Northern Lights project, signed memoranda of understanding with seven European companies to develop value chains in carbon capture and storage. The agreements were signed with, Air Liquide, Arcelor Mittal, Ervia, Fortum Oyj, HeidelbergCement AG, Preem, and Stockholm Exergi. 

Regulation 

Equinor were awarded a permit to develop the CO2 storage site on behalf of the Northern Lights consortium in January 2019. The acreage lies to the south of the giant Troll hydrocarbon field, west of Bergen, and represents a prime location for the geological storage of CO2 deep below the seafloor. 

The process of CO2 storage makes use of the pore-space in sedimentary rocks on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. 

Northern Lights will drill a well to confirm the properties of the storage reservoir in Q4 2019 and this will also serve as the injector well once CO2 starts flowing from the capture plants when the project begins. 

However, before injection of CO2 can commence, the Northern Lights consortium will also need to obtain a CO2 Storage permit from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a mandate to protect the natural environment on the seafloor and in the sea itself. 

In order to adhere to the regulations that come with these permits, Equinor and their partners will put in place a robust monitoring system, similar to the ones they have used for many years at the Sleipner and Snøhvit storage fields. 

For more information about Northern Lights see the website: northernlightsccs.eu