Possible EU subsidy for international CO2 storage cooperation

Possible EU subsidy for international CO2 storage cooperation
Photo: Port of Antwerpen

The European Union is prepared in principle to provide a subsidy for a project to store CO2 from industry in Antwerp, Ghent, Zeeland and Rotterdam beneath the North Sea.

This was revealed in the list of energy projects that the European Parliament approved on Wednesday, 12 February 2020 and that, as a result, received ‘Project of Common Interest’ (PCI) status.

The Porthos project is in preparation in Rotterdam. This will enable various companies to supply CO2 to a transport pipeline that runs straight through the port area. The CO2 will be transported via this pipeline to an empty gas field beneath the North Sea for permanent storage. Industry in Antwerp, Ghent, Terneuzen and Vlissingen does not have access to empty gas fields off the coast. Investigations will be conducted to assess whether this industry can be connected to the Rotterdam system via a pipeline. The objective is to emit less CO2 into the atmosphere, helping to combat climate change.

The capture and storage of CO2 (Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS) is one of the tracks in the transition towards a climate-neutral industry by 2050. Other tracks include the production of green hydrogen, electrification, use of CO2 and recycling. It is expected that CCS will be used in the relatively short term and that in the longer term more fundamental changes in the industry will be possible. CCS enables CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere within a relatively short period of time and for relatively low costs. Collaboration on this keeps the costs as low as possible.

The port management (North Sea Port, Port of Antwerp and the Port of Rotterdam Authority) are jointly investigating how the infrastructure between the ports should look. They are doing this under the name ‘CO2 TransPorts’. As the European Union considers CCS to be an important tool in combating climate change, the CO2 TransPorts research has received PCI status. CCS also plays an important role in the European Green Deal as a means to combat climate change. In 2020, the three ports can apply for a subsidy from a European fund for infrastructure, the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’. The PCI status is valid for two years (2020 and 2021). After this, the companies must submit a new application.

Industry in the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and North Sea Port are already connected by various pipelines. Pipelines are a reliable, safe and environmentally friendly means of transport. The refineries in Antwerp and Vlissingen have been obtaining crude oil by pipeline from Rotterdam for years.

In addition to CO2 TransPorts, Port of Antwerp also participated in another PCI application, Northern Lights. This groups a number of European industrial clusters that want to explore the possibilities for CO2 transport by ship to Norway. There, the Northern Lights consortium (Equinor, Shell and Total) aims to develop offshore CO2 storage capacity by 2023.

This link with two Projects of Common Interest allows the local Antwerp partnership of 8 leading parties on the port platform to study the feasibility of the various transport scenarios in more detail in the coming months.