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Carbon capture and storage (CCS)

Given that much of the world’s rising energy demand will continue to be met by fossil fuels, carbon capture and storage (CCS) could play a significant role in reducing CO2 emissions. CCS can capture CO2 emissions from power plants and industrial processes and store them deep underground. According to the International Energy Agency, CCS could reduce global CO2 emissions by 19% by 2050 – as long as it moves rapidly from the demonstration phase to widespread use.

There are challenges to the progress of CCS. Plans to store carbon deep underground onshore have faced opposition from local communities. Efforts are under way to develop CCS projects offshore. But government funding is needed to move CCS from demonstration to wider use by industry because CCS projects generate no revenue for companies.

While the technologies needed for CCS have been used safely for many decades, further work is under way to combine and advance them for use on a commercial scale. We are involved in a number of projects including Gorgon (Shell interest 25%), a liquefied natural gas (LNG) venture off Western Australia that will include the largest CCS project in the world. Once Gorgon is in operation, it is expected to capture and store underground 3 to 4 million tonnes a year of CO2. In Canada, our Quest project, if it goes ahead, has the potential to store over 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

In Norway, we are involved with partners in the largest planned demonstration facility to develop and test CO2 capture technology. The centre in Mongstad is expected to start operating in 2012. We continue to consider new CCS demonstration projects. For example, we are involved in a possible project in the UK to store CO2 in a depleted gas reservoir in the North Sea.