COPEHHAGEN: Denmark on Wednesday inaugurated a project to store carbon dioxide 1,800 metres beneath the North Sea, the first country in the world to bury CO2 imported from abroad.
The CO2 graveyard, where the carbon is injected to prevent further warming of the atmosphere, is on the site of an abandoned oil field. Led by British chemical giant Ineos and German oil company Wintershall Dea, the “Greensand” project is expected to store up to eight million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.
In December, it received an operating permit to start its pilot phase. Still in their infancy and costly, carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects aim to capture and then trap CO2 in order to mitigate global warming. Around 30 projects are currently operational or under development in Europe.
But unlike other projects that store CO2 emissions from nearby industrial sites, Greensand distinguishes itself by bringing in the carbon from far away. First captured at the source, the CO2 is then liquefied – in Belgium in Greensand’s case – then transported, currently by ship but potentially by pipelines, and stored in reservoirs such as geological cavities or depleted oil and gas fields.
At Greensand, the carbon is transported in special containers to the Nini West platform, where it is injected into an existing reservoir 1.8 kilometres under the seabed.
Once the pilot phase is completed, the plan is to use the neighbouring Siri field as well. Danish authorities, looking to hit carbon neutrality by 2045, say this is “a much needed tool in our climate toolkit”. “It will help us reach our goals. Since our subsoil has a storage potential far larger than our emissions, we are able to store carbon from other countries as well,” climate minister Lars Aagaard said.
The North Sea is particularly suitable for this type of project as the region already has pipelines and potential storage sites after decades of oil and gas production.
“The depleted oil and gas fields have many advantages because they are well understood and there are already infrastructures which can most likely be reused,” said Morten Jeppesen, director of the Danish Offshore Technology Centre at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
Near the Greensand site, France’s TotalEnergies is also exploring the possibility of burying CO2 with the aim of trapping five million tonnes per year by 2030.
In neighbouring Norway, carbon capture and storage facilities are already in operation to offset domestic emissions but the country will also be receiving tonnes of liquefied CO2 in a few years’ time, transported from Europe by ship. As Western Europe’s largest producer of oil, Norway also has the largest potential for CO2 storage on the continent, particularly in its depleted oil fields.

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