CO2 Sapling

What is CO2 Sapling?

The CO2 Sapling project is a CO2 transportation infrastructure project that grows and builds out from the Acorn full chain Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project.  The Acorn CCS project is a low-cost full chain industrial CCS project that has recently been awarded Horizon2020 funding under the ACT (Accelerating CCS Technologies) Programme.

Whilst the proposed CO2 infrastructure network is seeded with existing oil and gas pipeline systems in North East Scotland, the subsequent build out connects regional, national and international emissions centres to support the deep decarbonisation of the North Sea Basin area.   The transportation network seeks to make significant early progress through the re-purposing and re-use of existing assets wherever possible.  It is further augmented by CO2 shipping export and import facilities and new pipelines.  This enables the more expensive capital investments to be reserved until a significant proportion of the CO2 landscape and business model is de-risked.  They key component in the network is the St Fergus gas processing plant, which through the CO2 Sapling plan will become a strategic European CO2 sequestration hub.

The CO2 Sapling project was submitted as an application to be listed as a European project of common interest (PCI) in April 2017. It was accepted and publically listed as a PCI in November 2017. In addition to the support to developing key European CO2 transportation infrastructure, it will also provide a model and template for similar hubs elsewhere in Europe where ageing petroleum assets may be suitable for re-use and thereby deliver significant transnational benefits.

Using existing North Sea gas pipelines that are no longer required for petroleum as a dedicated transportation infrastructure for captured CO2 will significantly decrease both the financial cost and the investment risk for the Acorn CCS project and other CCS projects attached to the network.  Many of the pipeline systems are already in place and do not require the typical large investment decisions associated with new pipelay projects.  Furthermore,  re-purposing these pipelines will minimise any further disruptions to the seabed or beach crossings, which are major considerations for new pipelines.

What does CO2 SAPLING stand for?

CO2 SAPLING – CO2 Shipping And PipeLine Infrastructure and North Sea ReGeneration

What is a Project of Common Interest?

To help create an integrated EU energy market, the European Commission established a list of key energy infrastructure projects – projects of common interest (PCIs). These are considered essential for completing the European internal energy market and for meeting the EU’s energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy.

The list is reviewed every two years and the next update is due in September 2017.

For more information on projects of common interest, click here:

Which countries are involved in CO2 Sapling?

The CO2 Sapling project is led by the UK and involves the Netherlands and Norway as partners.

When will CO2 Sapling be operational?

It is anticipated the first phase of CO2 Sapling will be operational in 2022.

Planning of subsequent phases will depend on the timing of other the more capital intensive projects around the North Sea basin which are largely associated with CO2 capture systems at power and industrial plants. The following three phases are expected to be implemented by 2030.

The project as a whole has a long-term outlook to 2060, the expected operational lifetime of current assets. This aligns well with the EU vision of CO2 emissions reduction targets, and there is no reason why this initiative cannot continue beyond this timeframe due to the very large potential capacity within the North Sea for the permanent, safe and cost-effective storage of CO2.

If you would like more information on the CO2 Sapling project, please get in touch.

For more information on the Acorn CCS project, click here.