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Carbon capture goals ‘remarkably achievable’ says OGA boss

The chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has claimed the UK’s goals for a crucial new climate change technology are “remarkably achievable”.

Andy Samuel was speaking at the Hydrogen Festival in Aberdeen yesterday, arguing 2019 is a “key year” for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

CCS is a technology which stores emissions underground, with the UK North Sea holding “massive potential” through its depleted oil and gas fields.

A report earlier this year from Committee on Climate Change (CCC) argued that large scale deployment of CCS is “essential” for the UK to meet its goals of net zero emissions by 2050.

The OGA is consulting with industry on reusing oil and gas infrastructure and on creating new business models to hear what is needed to “facilitate getting on with CCS”.

Aberdeenshire has a demonstrator project in Acorn CCS at the St Fergus gas terminal, which both Shell and Chrysaor have backed with a view to upscaling it to be potentially operational by 2023-2024.

The OGA issued its first CCS storage licence to the project last year.

Mr Samuel said: “The exciting thing is, more so than any other North Sea country, we have massive storage potential. Way more than I think we will probably ever need but it is great to have that optionality.

“If you look the CCC report out to 2050, it is remarkably achievable what we need to do in the CCS space.

“Six to 15 large-scale – so think full-size Acorn – six to 15 of those can cover the low to high range the Committee on Climate Change is calling for.

“So I think this is very, very achievable and I would like to think we can go a lot further.”

While work is needed to improve costs of the technology, Mr Samuel said from a storage and transport perspective it would cost a “relatively minor” half a dollar per barrel of oil produced, which would be a “doable investment” for the industry.

Looking more widely, Mr Samuel highlighted that the OGA is tracking around 60 energy integration projects across the UK and overseas and is working with partners to support several of them.

Between platform electrification, gas to wire, CCS, various forms of hydrogen and offshore energy power hubs, he said there are a “whole variety of novel combinations” to create value while reducing emissions.

He referenced a slide which showed a host of projects the OGA is working on along the east and west coasts, Norway, the Nertherlands and Shetland, adding he’d like to see some of these sanctioned by this time next year.

Mr Samuel added: “I would like nothing more than this time next year to be able to say a handful of these are now moving forward through sanction into development.

“There’s a very strong case for change whatever way you look at it. I look at it as a human being, a father, someone who is deeply concerned about global warming. I think the oil and gas industry and many of the people here have some of the solutions to help us rapidly navigate the required change.”