INEOS has helped to prove to the world that CO2 can be safely captured and permanently stored under the seabed. The successful trial, which saw CO2 captured from the INEOS Oxide plant in Antwerp Belgium, compressed and shipped 500km, cross border, to the company's Nini offshore oil platform in the Danish North Sea, was hailed as a big moment for Europe’s transition to a greener economy.
“You have shown that it can be done,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
“You have shown that we can grow our industry through innovation and competition, and at the same time, remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere, through ingenuity and cooperation.”
There to witness this historic moment was Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik, INEOS Founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Hugo Dijkgraaf, Chief Technology Officer at Wintershall Dea which, along with INEOS, headed the consortium of 23 organisations involved in Project Greensand.
“This project proves that carbon capture and storage is a viable way to permanently store CO2 emissions under the North Sea,” said Hugo.
After being shipped to the Nini platform, the liquefied gas was injected, via an existing well, into a discontinued reservoir more than a mile below the seabed.
“There is no way we could have failed on this,” said Anne Steffensen, CEO of Danish Shipping which transported the CO2 to INEOS’ North Sea rig.
And the reason is simple.
For carbon capture and storage is seen as critically important to help decarbonise the world’s energy and tackle climate change.
The consortium of 23 partners is jointly led by INEOS, which has been collecting and storing the waste CO2 at its Oxide plant for the past 10 years.
Project Greensand, as it is known due to the type of sandstone under the seabed, is the first full value chain exercise, capturing the CO2 gas from plants, liquefying it, shipping it out to sea before injecting it into empty oil wells.
And it is being done purely to protect the environment.
“All the parts of the process had been developed and worked well in isolation,” said David Bucknall, CEO of INEOS Energy.
“Connecting the parts and building the infrastructure was the challenge.”
The plan now – following the successful trial – is to start operating commercially in 2025.
Once fully operational, it will be able to store up to eight million tonnes of CO2 every year.
Although there are no economic incentives to what INEOS is doing, there is immense pride within the company at being involved in such a ground-breaking project.
Mads Weng Gade, CCO, Head of INEOS Energy Denmark, described it as a fantastic milestone in the fight against climate change.
“I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time,” he said. “We have all shown true, pioneering spirit and worked hard to achieve this.”
Many critics have argued that carbon capture and storage is unscalable, expensive and energy-intensive.
But David, a former BP executive, said the project was based on proven technologies.
“The pilot and development phases are about making them work together effectively,” he said.
In December, the INEOS-led project received £22 million from the Danish government – the largest single grant ever awarded in Denmark.
“Denmark has one of the most ambitious climate targets in the world and sees carbon capture storage as one of the steps needed to reach its goals,” said David. “This project will contribute significantly to Denmark's carbon reduction targets.”
The project will also secure highly-skilled jobs. “It makes sense for the oil and gas industry to drive this new industry because they have many years of experience in this field,” said Mads.
“We will be using the same infrastructure, the same geology and the same people who have detailed knowledge of these reservoirs.”
Instead of dismantling oil rigs, they can be repurposed.
Instead of gas flowing out, the process will simply be reversed to allow carbon dioxide to flow into the wells.
INEOS’ long-term goal is to build a fleet of ships and CO2 storage facilities on land and a terminal so that the ships can dock, load the CO2 into containers and then sail out to the rig.
“We anticipate Greensand to be competitive commercially once a commercial market for CO2 is up and running,” said David.