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Italy’s Economic Diplomacy, 18 March: latest news from the world


As part of the initiatives connected to proclaiming Oslo the Green Capital of Europe, the debate on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is becoming extremely topical. This technology, on which the Norwegian Government and private businesses are increasingly putting their stakes, develops in three steps: the carbon dioxide is captured through a chemical process that converts it into liquid; it is then transported through underwater pipelines or tanker ships and then stored. The liquid carbon dioxide is injected under pressure into deposits specifically located inside geological formations on the sea bottom; the deposits are then covered with a layer of rock that prevents the CO2 from leaking out.

Norway is promoting the technological development and large-scale use of the Carbon Capture and Storage system; since 2016, the Government has listed the CCS as one of the priorities in the development and growth of the Country’s energy sector. In order to coordinate the initiatives in this sector, the Government has established an ad hoc public company called Gassnova. At present, it is experimenting two CCS projects in two energy recovery facilities (incinerators in the surroundings of the cities of Oslo and Kristiansand), and near the Norway Norcem cement plant in Brevik. The supply and storage centre, which is considered to be the largest in the world, is not far from Bergen; on the medium term, the CO2 will be stored along the western coast of Norway, specifically exploiting an offshore gas production plant.   

Focus is also on the commercial and economic aspect of CCS, which can turn into a full-fledged business. According to the first estimates, Norway should be able to store a quantity of CO2 almost 10 times larger than the amount it produces; which raises the idea of importing a considerable amount of CO2 from abroad (prevalently from the bordering and neighbouring areas on the North Sea), mostly already chemically treated and liquefied. To this end, the State-owned Equinor, together with Shell and Total, is developing the “Northern Lights” project, which aims to securely transport large amounts of CO2 from the energy recovery facility in Klemetsrud to the storage sites specifically created underwater on the bottom of the North Sea, a few kilometres from the Norwegian coasts. The project also envisages laying large underwater pipelines conveying CO2 from neighbouring Countries (United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands) directly to the onshore terminal of Oygarden (not far from Bergen) and then, from there, to the deposits on the bottom of the North Sea, again through underwater pipelines. In parallel, the project envisages a large marine pipeline connecting Oslo and Kristiansand to the stockage terminal.