Report outlines North Sea’s potential for future carbon storage

Nov. 27, 2023
Xodus and Subsea7 predicts about 100 reservoirs will need to be prepared in the North Sea to satisfy governments’ CCS ambitions by 2050.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK — A report by Xodus and Subsea7 predicts about 100 reservoirs will need to be prepared in the North Sea to satisfy governments’ carbon capture and storage (CCS) ambitions by 2050.

Development could also call for the installation of more than 7,500 km of new pipelines and dozens of onshore emissions capturing and gathering sites.

The "Forecasting the North Sea CCUS infrastructure to 2050" is intended for use by developers assessing the cost efficiency of planned projects and their likely viability.

Xodus assessed 560 potential storage sites, existing North Sea gas pipelines and potential new infrastructure to rank different initiatives in terms of cost efficiency. The sites could provide a permanent storage solution for about 40% of Europe’s industrial emissions that are generated within 500 km of the North Sea.

Over the next decade, Xodus predicts that up to 100% of Europe’s CCUS projects will be focused on the North Sea, and that by 2050 the North Sea would retain a 60% share of a 500 megatonne/year market.

Emissions will be imported by vessels and long-distance pipelines, the volumes depending on transportation costs, competing storage sites and public thinking concerning storage onshore.

Xodus CEO Steve Swindell said, “The outlook for this crucial technology is somewhat vague with many question marks around timing, volume and prime locations for locking away emissions. Our study analyzes many of these uncertainties by examining the infrastructure needed to enable deployment at scale.”

By the end of the 2020s, Xodus expects eight CCUS projects to be operating in Europe, including Northern Lights in Norway, and the Viking and Acorn clusters in the UK North Sea. All stores will be either near or linked to high CO2-emitting regions.

Potentially, Xodus found, between 50% and 70% of North Sea CO2 storage could involve reused infrastructure, delivering cost savings and environmental benefits. However, that would depend on a concerted national and cross-border infrastructure approach to ensure the infrastructure is kept in place.