In the port of Esbjerg, the first ship with captured CO2 from Belgium arrived to store the carbons in a depleted oil field in the Danish part of the North Sea. Called the Greensand project, this is considered the first cross-border offshore CO2 storage project in the world.
With the incoming CO2 from the port of Antwerp on board the vessel MV Aurora Storm, Denmark has started its journey toward storing 13 million tons of CO2 under the North Sea by 2030.
Greensand plays the first violin in this ambition, as it will be responsible for trapping 8 million tons of CO2 by that deadline, the most significant portion in the share. The Aurora Storm commutes between Antwerp and the platform.
Led by Ineos and Wintershall DEA
CO2 capture, also called CCS (Carbon Capture Storage), is still a novelty and an expensive procedure, but some two hundred projects are currently under development worldwide. But, again, Greensand stands out as it is the only one in the world where abated CO2 from foreign countries is imported.
The Greensand project is led by a collaboration between German gas and oil company Wintershall DEA and chemical giant Ineos and was officially inaugurated by the crown prince of Denmark, Frederik Christian.
The CO2 is turned to liquid before it is shipped toward the Nini West platform, a little north of Norwegian waters, where it is injected in the empty oil field 1,8 kilometers beneath the sea’s surface. In general, due to an extensive network of pipelines and abandoned oil fields, the North Sea has an interesting capacity for carbon storage.
Director of the Danish Center for Offshore Technologies Morten Jeppesen explains: “Depleted oil and gas fields have many advantages because they are well documented, and there is already infrastructure that can most likely be reused.”
French oil giant TotalEnergies is investigating a similar project nearby Greensand, which should account for the remaining 5 million tons of Denmark’s scope. Norway follows suit and welcomes tons of non-domestic CO2 for sea storage.
Curing the symptoms
Considered a cornerstone for decarbonizing Western industry, CO2 storage is backed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and experts from the United Nations. However, critics consider it an unfavorable solution, as it does nothing to change our habits structurally but prolongs them and only cures the symptoms.
And it only concerns a small part of those symptoms. For example, during the year of pandemic, in 2020, the European Union emitted 3,7 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The storing process isn’t free from emissions either. According to the Australian think tank IEEFA, it emits the equivalent of 21% of the CO2 stored.
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