Longship launched, full steam ahead for capture & storage

24 December 2020

Among recent encouraging developments in the CCUS area, one of the most significant is the positive final investment decision taken, after considerable deliberation, by the Norwegian government in favour of a major full-chain CCS project, now called Longship (in Norwegian ‘Langskip’). The total cost, capital plus ten years of operation, is estimated at 25.1 billion NOK ($2.7 billion), with the Norwegian government contributing 16.8 billion NOK ($1.8 billion).

Above: Overview of Longship. The CO2 is transported by ship from capture facilities on the east coast of Norway (Brevik and Oslo) to a dedicated terminal on the west coast (near Bergen). It is then pumped via pipeline to an area in the North Sea, to be stored more than 3 km below the sea bed (illustration: Gassnova)


A proposal to launch the project was submitted to the Norwegian parliament in a white paper on 21 September. It has been described as a “milestone in the government’s industry and climate efforts” and “the greatest climate project in Norwegian industry ever.”

The project consists of installation of carbon capture at Norcem’s Brevik cement factory and also the intention to install carbon capture at Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste incineration facility in Oslo, provided that “the project secures sufficient own funding as well as funding from the EU or other sources.”

“For Longship to be a successful climate project for the future, other countries also have to start using this technology. This is one of the reasons why our funding is conditional on others contributing financially as well,” said Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg.

Longship also includes funding for the Northern Lights CO2 transport and storage project, which is being developed jointly by a consortium of Equinor (operator), Shell and Total. Northern Lights consists of transport by tanker ship of liquid CO2 from capture sites to a purpose built receiving terminal in Øygarden, Vestland County (near Bergen on the west coast of Norway). From there it will be pumped via pipeline to a sub-seabed reservoir. The plan is to build an open access transport and storage infrastructure for CO2 that provides capacity beyond that required for the Norcem and Fortum Oslo Varme capture sites.

Successive Norwegian governments have supported CCS technology development and testing, notably Technology Centre Mongstad (in partnership with Total, Shell and Equinor), while the Sleipner and Snøhvit projects have demonstrated safe carbon storage on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Carbon capture is critical

The increasing momentum being enjoyed by CCUS, after years of slow progress, is reflected in a new report from the IEA, CCUS in clean energy transitions – launched at an IEA online event opened by prime minister Erna Solberg, within days of announcing the Longship FID.

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage, says the IEA, is the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 from the atmosphere to balance the emissions that are the hardest to prevent – a crucial part of reaching the net-zero emissions goals that a growing number of governments and companies have set for themselves.

Part of the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives Series, the IEA believes its new report is “the most comprehensive global study on CCUS to date.” It assesses the state of play of CCUS technologies and maps out the evolving and expanding role they will need to play to put global emissions on a sustainable trajectory. It includes a detailed analysis of CO2 emissions from power and industrial facilities in China, Europe and the United States and potential for storing them.

“The scale of the climate challenge means we need to act across a wide range of energy technologies. Carbon capture is critical for ensuring our transitions to clean energy are secure and sustainable,” said Dr Fatih Birol, IEA executive director.

“CCUS will be necessary on a global scale if we are to meet the Paris Agreement. And we must start now”, said prime minister Solberg.

Plans for more than 30 commercial CCUS facilities have been announced globally in the last three years. And projects now nearing a final investment decision represent an estimated potential investment of around USD 27 billion – more than double the investment planned in 2017. This portfolio of projects is increasingly diverse and would double the amount of CO2 captured globally.

The report sets out the four main ways that CCUS technologies contribute to clean energy transitions:

  • tackling emissions from existing energy infrastructure, such as power and industrial plant;
  • providing a way of dealing with some of the most challenging hard-to-abate emissions, from heavy industries like cement and chemicals, as well as from aviation;
  • offering a cost-effective pathway for low- carbon hydrogen production in many regions;
  • removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Although carbon capture facilities have been operating for decades in certain industries like natural gas and fertilisers, they are still at an early stage of development in key sectors such as cement. These are the areas where CCUS technologies are particularly important for tackling emissions because of a lack of alternatives, says the IEA report.

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