Pale Blue Dot Energy delivers project identifying cost effective CCS storage sites off UK coast

  • Project confirms there are no major technical hurdles to storing industrial scale CO2 offshore in the UK with sites able to service mainland Europe as well as the UK.
  • 12 month project for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) was carried out by Pale Blue Dot Energy, Axis Well Technology and Costain with £2.5m of funding provided by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
  • Report identifies types of stores, costs of storing carbon dioxide and ways to reduce costs over time.

A new report produced for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and published today (12th May 2016) confirms that there are no technical hurdles to permanently and safely storing large quantities of carbon dioxide deep underground off the coast of the UK. There is also the potential that these sites in the North Sea could be developed to provide a CO2 storage hub for CO2 emissions from mainland Europe, enhancing their economic attractiveness.

The report was produced by a consortium led by Aberdeen-based consultancy Pale Blue Dot Energy working with Axis Well Technology and Costain.

It follows a 12 month project commissioned and delivered by the ETI and funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Key findings of the report include:

  • The UK Continental Shelf can provide a vast national offshore CO2 storage resource, which can be made readily available without having to undertake extensive appraisal programmes thanks to decades of oil and gas exploration and development activity.
  • The five sites studied in detail are suitable for storing CO2 emissions from both power and industry projects around the UK.
  • Only two of the five sites would need further appraisal drilling before any investment decision was made.

The project has built on data from CO2 Stored – the UK’s CO2 storage atlas – a database which was created from the ETI’s UK Storage Appraisal Project. This is now publically available and being further developed by The Crown Estate and the British Geological Survey.

This project identified 20 specific CO2 storage sites (from a potential 579 sites) which together represent the tip of a very large strategic national CO2 storage resource potential, estimated to be around 78GT (78,000 million tonnes). The top 15% of this potential storage capacity would last the UK around 100 years.

Five of these sites were then selected for further detailed analysis given their potential contribution to mobilise commercial-scale carbon, capture and storage (CCS) projects for power and industrial use in the UK. Outline storage development plans and budgets were prepared for each.

Under the terms of the DECC funding package, the ETI is publishing on its website the detailed reports from the project and providing access to the sub-surface geological models.

Steve Murphy, Director of Pale Blue Dot Energy, said

“50 people from 15 organisations have contributed to the project outcome and it is a great tribute to the collaboration and constructive challenge of all concerned that the project was completed on time and on budget and delivered such high quality outputs.

“Over the past 10 months the multi-company, multi-disciplinary team has expended 15,000 man-hours to deliver a series of assessments and reports that form one of the most comprehensive and mature CO2 storage propositions available within the public domain.”

Pale Blue Dot Energy has developed unparalleled expertise in the selection and appraisal of CO2 storage sites as a result of this project and previous experience in CO2 storage appraisal over the last 10 years.

Andrew Green, ETI’s CCS Programme Manager, said

“The results from this project have confirmed the understanding that there are no major technical hurdles to moving industrial scale CO2 storage forward in the UK. Indeed, the UK could form the basis of a storage resource that could service the needs of many parts of Europe in addition to its own needs.

“The five sites featured in the study, along with three others studied to FEED level previously, could collectively store over 1.5GT of CO2, and could be fully operational as early as 2030 which would be enough to service a significant roll out of commercial projects, including up to 10GW of power generation and major industrial sources fitted with CCS, as highlighted in earlier ETI analysis.

“This would represent the development of only 2% of the UK’s national storage resource potential.

“Our view is that CCS should still play an important role in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK energy system and continues to offer the lowest cost solution to meeting the UK’s legally binding 2050 climate change targets.”

Alastair Dodds, Director of Axis Well Technology, said

“This project has made an outstanding contribution in progressing the potential of CCS in the UKCS.  All partners have successfully collaborated to deliver technically robust, multi-disciplinary ‘end to end’ field development concepts in a very short timeframe.  Axis is delighted to be associated with this milestone project.”

Frazer Mackay, Costain Oil & Gas Sector Director, said

“Being involved in this project has allowed Costain to utilise our expertise from the Oil & Gas and Power sectors to make what will be a material difference to the UK’s CCS landscape and future. We are delighted to have had the chance to make this contribution.

“As the CCS landscape develops, knowledge sharing and collaborative working will be vital. Collaborating and sharing knowledge between companies, academia and across industry sectors often acts as a catalyst for further innovation as suppliers share techniques, processes and learnings to help further improve their operations. This project is an excellent example of this type of working.”

The report “Progressing Development of the UK’s Strategic Carbon Dioxide Storage Resource” along with detailed technical reports for the five selected storage sites are available at:

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