Scots universities warn oil and gas sector against premature decommissioning of redundant pipelines that could be re-purposed in new £160 billion carbon-capture industry

Prof Stuart Haszeldine, Director, Scottish Carbon and Capture Storage.
Prof Stuart Haszeldine, Director, Scottish Carbon and Capture Storage.

The UK government’s carbon-capture and storage Cost Challenge Task Force has made a series of recommendations on how government and industry should work together to deploy carbon capture, utilisation and storage in the UK in the 2030s. 

The carbon-capture sector stretches across the whole economy, for example in the retention and growth of high-value jobs in industrial production and the oil and gas industry; and the production of low-cost hydrogen with CCUS to decarbonise heat and transport.

A study last year, Clean Air, Clean Industry, Clean Growth: How Carbon Capture Will Boost the UK Economy, concluded that a carbon-capture industry could boost the UK economy by an estimated £163 billion between now and 2060, outweighing the investment costs of £34 billion by a factor of five times.

The Task Force report recommends focusing on regional clusters around industry, power production and hydrogen production; gathering CO2 and transporting through separately managed, shared infrastructure to offshore storage rather than the end-to-end, single large power plant projects of the past.

The report finds that large cost reductions are possible through this sharing of infrastructure and additionally through the reuse of existing oil and gas infrastructure, both onshore and offshore.

Several existing pipelines connected to well-characterised stores are suitable for conversion to CO2 transport, leading to reductions in capital costs of £750 million for the Acorn project and £440 million for the Caledonian Clean Energy Project.

But these large potential savings can only be achieved if we make sure that the pipelines we need aren’t swept up in the rush for decommissioning. The Oil and Gas Authority and BEIS need to urgently review the decommissioning process and the implementation of the Maximising Economic Recovery Strategy in the next few months.

Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Director of the Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage project consortium, said: “This comprehensive report compiles an integrated examination of industrial need, technical capability and financial investability. The report proposes a very welcome reset of CCUS strategy, which recognises for the first time that CCUS has value across the entire UK economy and enables clean industrial growth.

“Eastern Scotland is extremely well placed with unique access to commercially-ready very secure CO2 storage sites offshore.  We have two leading CCS projects – Acorn and the Caledonia Clean Energy Project – which are ready to bring costs down further by re-using oil and gas industry legacy pipelines.

“CCUS will enable the retention of tens of thousands high value skilled jobs in the oil and gas industry and is a significant part of the North Sea oil and gas industry’s transition to a low-carbon future.

“It is positive that the task force has recommended that government and industry undertake a strategic review of the oil and gas assets that could be repurposed for carbon dioxide transport.  

“However, this needs to go further – UK and Scottish governments and industry need to work together to ensure that these strategic assets are protected and kept in good condition until they can be re-used.  

“They also need to make sure that decommissioning is paused until this review is completed, otherwise we run the risk of throwing our infrastructure investment away.”

“We call on the government, and particularly Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry to take these recommendations on board, and start taking the action we need to make CCUS a reality.”

20 Jul 2018

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed