North Sea rim accord

The energy ministers of Britain and Norway today signed an agreement that could see carbon emissions stored in depleted oil fields in the North Sea.

An agreement that could see carbon emissions stored in depleted oil fields in the North Sea was signed today by UK Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks and the Norwegian Energy Minister Odd Roger Enoksen.

The ministers pledged to undertake a bilateral effort to explore areas of co-operation to encourage injection and permanent storage of CO2 beneath the North Sea.

Known as carbon sequestration, the technology can be used to separate CO2 from coal and gas firing power stations, which is then pumped into depleted oil fields via disused pipelines.

“This technology could cut the level of CO2 emissions from power stations by up to 90%,” said Wicks. “It is estimated that we have the capacity under the UK Continental Shelf to store our total carbon emissions for decades to come.”

Mr Wicks added: “Norway has already taken a significant world lead in offshore geological storage of CO2 with the Sleipner project, building up considerable knowledge and experience in this field. Here in the UK, I welcome the BP/Scottish and Southern Energy Peterhead project in the North Sea which will demonstrate the full carbon capture and storage process.

“The Energy review which was announced yesterday will consider the policy options to ensure that the UK is on track to meet the goals of the Energy White paper in the medium and long term. Where necessary it will refine existing policies to ensure these aims are met. Within the context of this review, Carbon Capture and Storage is increasingly becoming a serious longer-term option.”

The Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy, announced by Malcolm Wicks in June this year, recognised that incentives may be needed to encourage the development of these technologies. The Climate Change Programme Review has been looking at the need for incentives and will comment on these when it is published. It is expected that the Energy Review will also look in further detail at the need and scope of such incentives.