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Plan to transport carbon dioxide in disused pipes could save £48bn

Concrete canvas pipe protection under water

Repurposing disused gas and oil pipes in the North Sea to transport large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) to storage sites could save £48bn over the next 30 years, according to proposals from a carbon capture and storage developer. 

Acorn CCS developer Pale Blue Dot Energy claims that 650M.t of CO2 could be transported through the pipes. It has higlighted two sites for carbon capture and storage under the North Sea, that could be accessed by redeveloping disused gas and oil mains. 

The suggested storage sites sit off Scotland’s east coast, near the port of Peterhead, cover a total area of over 2,000km2. The proximity to the the port would also allow the UK to import CO2 for storage from Europe.  

Both sites are in natural sandstone formations and have been identified as being suitable for the injection and long-term storage of CO2.

Act acorn options map

Act acorn options map

Currently, the three most suitable pipelines for reuse in the North Sea are the Atlantic Pipeline, the Goldeneye Pipeline, and the Miller Gas System Pipeline. All three pipelines are currently awaiting decommissioning. 

Incorporating these pipes into the carbon storage system would save £48bn in decommissioning costs leading up to 2050, claims Pale Blue Dot Energy.   

The pipes were originally used for transporting natural gas and oil, and are considered ideal for transportin CO2 to underground transport facilities, the study suggests - however the risk of failures is higher than with new pipes.  

The estimated cost of developing the sites, including modifying the existing pipes is just under £550M. 

Main developer for the study, Pale Blue Dot Energy project director Steve Murphy said the UK could deliver a functional CCS system within the next decade.  

“Acorn CCS is now well placed to be an operating project by 2023, firmly realising an option for the UK to deliver CCS at scale in the 2030s and supporting many industrial clusters around the North Sea to significantly decarbonise.”  

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